Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
614. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent to which Irish food markets have been affected by Brexit in the past year, with particular reference to beef, lamb, poultry or dairy products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62453/21]
The latest CSO trade statistics data for the end of the third quarter, show that 2021 has been a period of value growth for Irish food exports.
In the first three quarters of 2021 the value of agri-food exports were up €711 million or 6.8% on the same period in 2020 and up €446m or 4.2% on the same period in 2019.
Dairy produce, beef and beverages constitute the most valuable commodity categories accounting for €6.6 billion, or 59% of the total value of agri-food exports in the period January to September 2021.
At €1.7 billion, the total value of beef exports is virtually unchanged for the January to September period in the years 2019 to 2021. The total value of dairy exports exhibited more variation but has, nevertheless, averaged €3.8 billion during the same timeframe.
Irish sheep meat, which is traditionally less reliant than other meat species on the UK market, is having another consecutive year of significant growth. According to the CSO, the value of Irish sheep meat exports for the first three quarters of 2021 were up almost €15 million, or 6%, on the same period in 2020 and nearly €50 million, or 20%, on 2019.
Focusing on specific product category developments in the UK market, the overall trend over the last three years is a gradual shift away from reliance on that market for the four main meat species and dairy produce.
Nevertheless, overall exports of Irish agri-food products to the UK have recovered compared to earlier in the year and are up for the first three quarters of the year by €421m, or 11.3%, compared to 2020. They are up €171m, or 4.3 %, compared to 2019.
In conclusion, it is too soon to make definite judgements on how Irish agri-food exports have been affected by Brexit as distinct from the pandemic and other factors influencing international trade patterns.
615. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if Irish food exports are being affected by similar products from other EU or third countries on the basis of trends since January 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62454/21]
On examination of Central Statistics Office data for January - August 2021, I am pleased to report that despite challenging circumstances, our agri-food exports worldwide are up €533m/5.8% on the same 2020 period and up €199m/2.1% compared to 2019. Exports to the UK are also up for the first eight months of 2021 - €306m/9.5% compared to 2020 and up €16m/0.4% compared to 2019. When we examine Great Britain and Northern Ireland individually, we can note that exports to GB are to the end of August up €34m/1.3% compared to down 20% at end of Q1 2021. Exports to NI continue to be strong, up 39%/€272m compared to 2020. This compares even more favorably than Q1 2021 where exports to Northern Ireland were up 19%.
These figures demonstrate no loss of market share and display the remarkable resilience of the Irish food and drink sectors particularly in the face of market disruptions such as Brexit and Covid. My Department and its agencies will continue to remain focused on maximising the value of Irish agri-food exports globally in particular supporting continued diversification into EU and third country markets. A key component of this strategy has been our Trade Mission agenda and key customer engagements. In 2021, these engagements were held virtually and focused on Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, China, Singapore, and West Africa, as well as on our traditional markets in the EU, UK, and US. For 2022, a schedule of extensive in-person Trade Missions to several key priority markets is planned.
My Department also continues to work on the opportunities provided by recent EU Free Trade Agreements with third countries, and to press at Government-to-Government level for the removal of technical market access barriers across a range of third country markets.