Food and beverage exports from Ireland fell by 9% in the month of May, with Bord Bia, the Irish food board, citing the negative impact of COVID-19 on the country's food sector.
According to the CSO data, food and drink exports were down 2% in the months leading up to May, before the pronounced slump in May itself.
It's not all bad news for Irish exports, however; dairy exports were up 7.1% in the first five months of the year, largely driven by EU (+5.5%), Asia (+9.7%) and North American (+18.6%) markets.
However, dairy exports to the UK fell by 17.7% in the five-month period, largely due to lower cheese exports.
Meat exports were more of a mixed bag, with primary beef exports to the EU down 16% in the five-month period, and exports to the UK down 11% – this was offset to some extent by increased values and volumes to Asia and the US.
Primary pigmeat exports were up 22%, driven by demand in China, while sheepmeat was up 7%.
The biggest year-on-year declines in the five-month period were seeing in alcoholic beverages, which saw exports fall by a fifth (-21%) and seafood, which was down 17%.
“Coming off the back of a decade of record food and drink export growth to €13 billion last year, the recent export figures highlight the real impact COVID-19 has had on international trade with year-to-date food and drink exports down by €126 million," commented Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia chief executive.
"The figures bring into sharp focus the profound need for the sustained and targeted supports the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Bia has continued to provide to the agri-food sector, as the industry deals with the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 and Brexit."
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine