Fruit and vegetable exports from the island of Ireland fell by 10% to €218m last year, according to a report on cross-border horticultural development.
The International Fund for Ireland report also says trade in horticultural products within the island was down to €34m in 2004 from €48m in 2003.
The industry’s overall output fell, particularly in potatoes and mushrooms, which together accounted for 60% of total horticultural output.
However, the report is enthusiastic about the opportunities available. It cites the growing foodservice sector which, it says, is now valued at €3.2bn. But it also points out that the foodservice sector is meeting consumer demand primarily through imports.
Meanwhile, organic producers are not meeting the volume demanded by wholesalers, the report adds, “with the result that 70% of organic fruit and vegetables has to be imported”.
The number of approved organic growers on the island has risen just 4% since 2000.