Facts about Ireland's agriculture and food & drink sector.
Food and drink
The agri-food and drink sector accounts for 7.6% of Irelands economy-wide GVA, (DAFM, 2014) 10% of Ireland’s exports and 7.7% of total employment. (DAFM, 2018)
In 2019, Irish agri-food and drink exports increased by an estimated 7% to approximately €13 bn (Bord Bia, 2020).
The UK was the biggest single market destination for Irish agri-food and drink exports in 2019, accounting for 34% of all exports. 35% of exports went to Continental EU markets while the remaining 31% went to international markets.
The latest estimates of the distribution of our agri-food and drink exports in 2016 by sector are as follows: dairy products and ingredients (34%), meat and livestock (30%), prepared consumer foods (18%), beverages (11%), seafood (2%), and horticulture (2%).
In 2016, Gross Agricultural Output (GAO) was valued at €6.92 billion. (DAFM, 2016)
The beef and dairy categories are the largest and account for 38.8% and 29.5% of GAO respectively. Other sectors to have a share in GAO include pig (7.8%), sheep (4%), cereals (3.9%), and other (16%).
Cattle and Beef
There were 6.6 million cattle in Ireland according to the December 2018 livestock survey.
This represents a 1% increase on previous year levels.
Irish beef production is predominately a grass based system, with around 588,000 tonnes produced in 2016. Beef self-sufficiency is estimated at over 650%.
In 2019, Ireland exported an estimated 624,000 tonnes of beef worth approximately €2.25 billion.
In 2019, 300,000 cattle were exported live from Ireland worth approximately €167 million.
Sheep and Sheepmeat
The Irish sheep flock showed a decrease of 5% in 2019 and totalled 2.8 million head.
Net production in 2019 was over 67,500 tonnes, a decrease of 3% on 2018.
During 2019 Ireland exported approximately €294 million worth of sheepmeat.
The UK continues to be the core market for Irish sheepmeat. exports there grew by 4% to reach €57 million.
Pigs and Pigmeat
In the December 2018 CSO Livestock Survey, there were 1.57 million pigs in Ireland, this represents a decrease of 2.7% on prior year levels.
In 2019, Ireland exported an estimated 254,000 tonnes of pigmeat worth an estimated €941 million.
In 2019, the UK was the main market for Irish pigmeat taking 53% of our total exports. Continental EU markets accounted for 18% of our pigmeat exports while the remaining 29% went to international markets.
Area (‘000 hectare) under certain crops in June 2018 (CSO 2018) were as follows:
Barley – 185.2
Wheat – 58
Oats – 17.8
Potatoes – 8.2
In 2019, total domestic milk output was estimated at 7,747 million litres. (CSO, 2019)
In 2019, 494 million litres were consumed as liquid milk. In addition to this 239,000 tonnes of butter and 133,000 tonnes of skim milk powder was produced while in 2018 224,100 tonnes of cheese was produced.
In 2019, total dairy and ingredients exports increased by an estimated 11% to €4.4 billion.