August  25, 2011

Significant rise in Irish dairy exports boosts economy



Ireland's dairy export increases of 47% in an overall 19% surge in agri-food exports in the first five months of 2011 have given the economy a lift, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and IFA president John Bryan.


The latest Central Statistics Office data shows overall agri-food exports have risen over 19% for January to May.


The total exports of food and live animals came to EUR3.15 billion (US$4.52 billion), up half a billion euro on the same period in 2010.


The agri-food sector has made a valuable contribution to Ireland's overall EUR4.079 billion (US$5.87 billion) seasonally adjusted trade surplus in June, Ireland's highest ever surplus. Overall, Irish exports are up around 5.6% on this time last year.


John Bryan said, "The growth in agri-food exports in the last year has played a significant part in achieving the highest trade surplus ever. For the sector to drive on and reach the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020, the correct conditions must be maintained.


"Farm schemes are very important in driving output at farm level, which in turn generates economic activity and exports. The government should continue to support primary production, and ensure that forthcoming decisions in Budget 2012 underpin our productive base. Compared to the same period last year, the agri-food sector has delivered an increase of almost 20% in the value of exports. In particular, there has been a very impressive performance on the dairy side, with exports of dairy products rising by 47%," Bryan added.


Agri-food exports enjoyed an on-year surge of EUR118 million (US$169.86 million) for May alone, from just short of EUR570 million (US$820.49 million) in May 2010 up to almost EUR688 million (US$990.34 million) in May 2011. Exports of dairy products and birds' eggs rose from just short of EUR460 million (US$662.15 million) last year to over EUR676 million (US$973.07 million) this year, a rise of 47%.


By contrast, the upward shift in imported food and live animals for the same period rose by just EUR40 million (US$57.58 million).


Bruton pointed out that this increase in imports was also a positive, noting that the importing of raw materials "dovetails with the signs of business recovery from the lower levels of economic activity over recent times".


Overall, agri-food exports for the period have continued the sector's gradual shift towards a doubling of the imports figure, standing at EUR688 million (US$990.34 million) for exports versus EUR398 million (US$572.9 million) for imports.

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