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January 14, 2010

IRELAND: Irish food exports expected to recover

Ireland’s food exports are expected to recover in 2010 after falling 12% last year due difficulties in the global dairy market and a weak pound versus the euro.

Ireland’s food exports are expected to recover in 2010 after falling 12% last year due difficulties in the global dairy market and a weak pound versus the euro.

The Irish Food Board said yesterday (13 January) that the value of Irish food and drink exports declined by just under EUR1bn (US$1.45bn) last year, to stand at EUR7.12bn.

However, the board said there are indications that export values are beginning to stabilise and has predicted some recovery in the year ahead.

“The prospects for 2010 point to a return to growth for Ireland’s food sector”, said Bord Bia chairman Dan Browne. “The potential for stronger export revenues from the key dairy and meat sectors, and investments by prepared food companies to broaden their market presence on the continent, will help exports as 2010 progresses. However, developments in sterling and consumer sentiment remain critical.”

The decline in sterling and price deflation in the marketplace were key factors in the reduction in export revenues in 2009, the board said.

The UK remained Ireland’s principal export destination in 2009 with sales valued at just under EUR3.1bn, a decrease of 15% compared to 2008 figures. The UK accounted for 44% of Ireland’s food and drink exports.

“The underlying performance of the industry, reflected in an estimated volume decline of just 3%, was impressive when set against these challenges”, said Bord Bia chief executive Aidan Cotter. “Sterling remains the single biggest issue for the industry. In 2009, it is estimated the depreciation of sterling reduced the value of exports to the UK by some EUR400m”.

The agriculture and food industry plays an important role in the Irish economy and remains its largest indigenous sector accounting for almost 9% of employment and 10% of exports. And around 65% of manufacturing exports by Irish-owned firms are estimated to consist of food and drink.

The long-term outlook for the sector, Bord Bia says, with its high export orientation, remains “positive”.

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