The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, have published their Annual Review and Outlook 2011/2012 which shows export figures for 2011 of €8.8bn, an increase of 12 percent on 2010.
The report shows that exports from the dairy sector were up by some 17 percent, accounting for 30 percent of agri-food exports followed by beef (20 percent); prepared foods (17 percent); beverages (14 percent); seafood (5 percent); pigmeat (4 percent); edible horticultural and cereals (2 percent); poultry (2 percent); sheepmeat (2 percent); and live animals (2 percent).
Additionally, the report shows that employment in the agri-food sector accounted for 138,000 jobs at the end of 2011 (7.7 percent of total employment). 55 percent of that figure work in agriculture, 35 percent in the food sector, four percent in the beverages area, three percent in wood processing, two percent in forestry and one percent in the fishing sector.
Furthermore, the industry, according to the report accounts for 67 percent of total manufacturing’s consumption of Irish raw materials Furthermore, the low import dependence and low level of profit repatriation in the sector mean that the net inflow of funds to the Irish economy is much higher than in other sectors.
Speaking upon the publication of the report, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD said the Government intends “to drive a very ambitious growth agenda for the agri-food sector and to increase the value of exports from the sector to €12bn by 2020. This will be conducted via the Food Harvest strategy. “That means increasing the value of primary production in Ireland by a third over the next decade and increasing the value added by our food production by 40 percent. We intend to increase milk production in volume terms by 50 per cent over the same period. The successful results of 2010 and 2011 have been an excellent start to this process”.
He added: “However, there are challenges ahead. Ireland is a small open economy and volatility in world commodity prices can have serious adverse consequences in terms of lower prices for our produce or higher prices for our inputs. Recent trends show that 2012 could be very challenging for many sub-sectors as world prices decline and some of our trading partners enter recession. The future of the sector is also heavily dependent on the outcome of negotiations both within Europe and between the EU and other global economies”.