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Irish horticulture and cereal exports increased by 14% in 2021

mushroom production has a farm gate value of€173 million according to Bord Bia
Mushroom exports increased by 31% to €151 million last year, according to Bord Bia

Mushroom exports increased by 31% to €151 million last year, research from Bord Bia has found



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13 January 2022

The value of Irish horticulture and cereal exports increased by 14% to €271 million in 2021. This is according to new data from Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report 2021/2022. The main export products within this sector are mushrooms, primary cereals, and amenity horticulture.

It said the horticulture and cereal category is almost entirely dependent on the UK as a destination market. About 95% of horticulture exports went to the UK in 2021, which mirrored trade patterns in the previous year. Mushroom exports increased by 31% to €151 million last year.

The value of cereal exports was €61.8 million, which was a 9% increase year-on-year and a 23% jump compared to 2019. The value of amenity horticulture exports increased by 16% to €19.7 million.

Record increase

Across the board, the value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 4% to a record €13.5 billion in 2021, despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on trading.

Ireland exported the equivalent of almost €37 million worth of food and drink every day last year to customers in more than 180 countries worldwide, the report found.

Ireland exports about 90% of its food and drink production and the performance of the export sector was robust in 2021, given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that the UK is now operating outside of the EU Customs Union. The value of Irish food and drink exports was 2% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

“The sector’s ability to beat its 2019 performance and deliver a record year for Irish exports is truly impressive, and Irish food and drink producers and manufacturers deserve huge credit,” said Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy. “While we understandably focus on the headline figures, it is worth remembering that within those billions and millions are businesses and farms in every county and indeed, almost every parish in the country. Businesses that, whether large or small, are run by people who have faced tremendous challenges over the past 20 months, both professional and personal. It is our privilege in Bord Bia to support these wonderful risk-takers, visionaries, and innovators.

“Last year, we continued to work virtually for most of our activities, as we prioritised the safety of customers and employees and sought new ways to contribute to the growth in value of this country’s food, drink, and horticultural exports. We will continue to work with the Irish food industry and its customers this year.

“Sustainability will continue to be a key focus for Bord Bia both this year and in the years ahead, as we work in partnership with the Irish food, drink, and horticulture industry to meet the Irish government’s carbon reduction targets and sustainability challenges. The government’s Food Vision 2030 strategy outlines the central role that Origin Green will play in supporting Ireland’s food sector in achieving Ireland’s environmental and sustainability goals. We look forward to helping Irish businesses to further embrace sustainability and ensure that Ireland continues to be acknowledged as a leader in sustainable food production.”

Export destinations

The medium-term impact of the sector’s strategy of diversification is further evidenced in this year’s data.

Last year, 34% of Ireland’s food and drink exports went to international markets outside the EU and the UK, while 33% went to the EU, and 33% to the UK. In 2016, 32% of exports went to international markets, 31% to the EU and 37% to the UK.

The EU was the largest single regional destination for Irish food, drink, and horticulture, as the value of exports increased by 2% to €4.5 billion last year. The value of exports to the UK was €4.4 billion last year, which was a very slight decline on the previous 12 months. Some categories saw a shift in exports to Northern Ireland rather than to Britain, due to a combination of serving new customers in NI and also partly as a route for onward shipment to northern parts of Britain.

The US market rebounded strongly, with export values up 22% to €1.3 billion driven by strong whiskey and liqueur sales. The value of exports to Africa grew by 12% to €918 million last year, while exports to South East Asia increased by 20% to exceed €500 million for the first time.

The full Export Performance and Prospects 2021/2022 report is available at

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