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Bord Bia said that the meat and livestock sector had played a crucial role in maintaining Ireland’s standing

The value of Irish food and drink exports to the UK rose to €5.6bn in 2023, up €800m (or 16.7%) on 2022 levels, latest data from Bord Bia has revealed.

The UK continued to be Ireland’s most significant export partner, said the food board, representing 34% of the country’s €16.3bn total export share.

Bord Bia said the meat and livestock sector had played a crucial role in maintaining Ireland’s standing.

It highlighted a surge in Irish beef exports to the UK, reaching an estimated €1.4bn – a 10% value rise year on year that elevated the UK market’s share to 47%, up from 44% in 2022.

Other sectors that performed strongly were packaged consumer food exports, up to €2bn, and drinks exports, valued at €336m, an increase of 19% compared with 2022.

Irish dairy exports, however, decreased in value from €1.2bn to €1.1bn.

Horticulture and cereals also saw a volume decrease, but the board said it saw a sales value rise, notably driven by mushrooms, which comprised nearly 50% of the total export value.

“Despite market challenges, Ireland’s food and drink industry, bolstered by a strong UK partnership, continues to perform well,” said Donal Denvir, Bord Bia’s director in the UK. “Our industry stands out as a resilient and unwavering source of food and drinks our UK partners continue to benefit from.”

The board also highlighted some challenges including inflation, the cost of living crisis and downward pressure on trade prices, which have resulted in a decline in export values across various sectors.

It is carrying out strategic planning in order to offset concerns around market volatility and inflation.

Nevertheless, the industry remained undeterred, it said, with 73% of Irish food and drink exporters expressing optimism for robust market growth in 2024.