Irish food and drink exports rose 4.4% to a record I£5.4bn last year, helped by the strong growth of prepared foods. Bord Bía reported that the category was up 7.7% to I£1.2bn, while dairy exports rose 5% to I£1.3bn and poultry exports were up by more than 13% to I£125m. It was also a good year for beverage exports which rose by 10% to I£630m. The BSE issue in continental Europe had a knock-on effect on Irish beef: cattle supplies dropped by 12% which meant exports were down 4.3%. Bord Bía chief executive Michael Duffy said the sector had maintained its position as a key Irish export at I£1.1bn. "Ireland is well positioned to regain its markets for beef as and when consumer confidence recovers." {{NEWS }}