Irish food and drink is sold in more than 180 markets worldwide. In 2019, food and drink exports were valued at €13 billion, up 67% since 2010. Last year, the UK accounted for 34% of total exports, over 35% went to Continental EU markets, and 31% went to international markets.
Food and Drink
Irish pork, beef and lamb feature on the very finest menus in restaurants, while its well-loved brands have their place on supermarket shelves internationally. Ingredients sourced from Ireland are found in many globally consumed products and are sold through leading foodservice outlets, retail chains and the pharmaceutical and nutritional sectors. Irish seafood enjoys a healthy reputation and, in turn, healthy sales in export markets.
The international phenomenon of the Irish pub, borne out of the Irish drinks sector, has introduced many consumers to the unique taste of an Irish cream liqueur or a triple distilled Irish whiskey, and consumers from Europe to Asia and America seek out famous drinks brands.
Ireland's fertile soil has encouraged a strong farming tradition. Predominantly a family business, there are approximately 139,900 family farms in Ireland, with the majority falling under the categories of specialist beef production, mixed grazing livestock, and dairying. Eighty per cent of Ireland's farmland is grassland. The total land area of Ireland is 6.9 million hectares of which 4.5 million hectares is used for agriculture. (CSO, Census of Agriculture 2011). This productive environment has allowed the practice of leaving animals on grass for almost all of the year, ensuring the highest levels of animal health and welfare, and the highest quality of end product as a result. At processing level, the most comprehensive and up-to-date methods of quality control and safety are coupled with a highly progressive and innovative outlook and the technological capacity to deliver to today's demanding customers. There is heavy investment dedicated to research and development and many food and drink companies have ties with Ireland's universities to further their research resources.
More than ever, consumers want to know where their food comes from, how it is made, and how it can allow them to live more responsibly. Irish food and drink producers, the Irish government and industry support bodies are working together to deliver a sustainability performance that is enhancing Ireland’s position in the global market place. The latest Origin Green (Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board) Progress Report showed that in a five-year period, food manufacturers delivered an 11% reduction in energy use per unit of output and a 17% reduction in water use per unit of output. They donated 4,717 tonnes of surplus food to food waste charity FoodCloud, planted 9,261 trees on manufacturing sites and donated over €8m to community and charity organisations.