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Meat Industry

Meat and Livestock Review & Outlook 2020/21

The Total Irish food and Drink exports for 2020 were worth €13bn, a two per cent decline on the 2019 figure. This slight decline is minimal in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated challenges within world food systems, such as the numerous lockdowns, the closures of food services and new work from home guidelines for many potential consumers.  

The world kept eating despite the global pandemic, but the channels by which Ireland’s food and drink arrived to consumers were disrupted.  

Irish Meat and livestock exports equalled €3.4bn in 2020, displaying an increase of two per cent on 2019 figures. This represents 26% of total Irish food and drink exports.  

Beef was hit hard by the pandemic, as 60% of Irish beef exports were destined for foodservice purposes in European markets. While that figure reduced to 35% due to closures, European retail sales for Irish beef increased by 10%.  Total exports of Irish primary beef was valued at €1.9bn, a two per cent reduction on 2019. Exports of offal was valued at €180m, a 10% reduction relative to 2019. In volume terms, exports of fresh and frozen beef including offal declined by four per cent to 550,000 tonnes.  

The UK, Ireland’s most important beef export market, decreased by one per cent in value terms to €835m. Exports to Northern Ireland increased by 10%. EU markets received €845m worth of Irish beef exports during the year.  

Irish primary pig meat exports for 2020 were 14% higher than 2019 at €586m, as the sector was helped by the firm international demand due to the impact of African Swine Fever (ASF).  

Irish sheepmeat exports valued at €357m, increased by 12% on the previous year. This strong growth came on the back of a stronger price environment and a four per cent increase in the overall volume of sheepmeat exported.