Poultry sales from the Republic of Ireland to the United Kingdom (UK) grew once again in 2015, with a strengthening pound against the euro making sales ever more attractive.
The UK is Ireland's most important market for food and drink exports, and is where 83% of the 109,000t of poultry that the country exported last year ended up. Bord Bia, the Irish food board, said in its annual round-up of sales that strong consumer demand had driven the increase.
Currency increases UK poultry trade value
Sterling became 10% stronger than the euro in 2015, helping exports become more competitive. The value of trade in poultry to the UK increased by 4%, driven by stronger shipments of processed poultry, offal and frozen poultry.
A "high proportion" of these products are redirected overseas, the report adds, in the form of speciality products such as chicken feet or gizzards.
Decrease in Europe-wide poultry exports
While sales to the UK flourished, exports to the rest of Europe slowed to €33m (£25m). This trend was driven by increased production across the Continent and higher imports from Thailand.
Ireland produced 76.9 million head of poultry in 2015, a year on year increase of 6%, and imported 124,000t of poultry products. Domestic consumption was up some 5%.
'Driving economic recovery'
Overall, 2015 was a good year for Irish food and drink exports. Sales by value were up 3% to €10.8bn (£8.24bn) – the 6th consecutive year of growth and a record high. This is despite Russia closing its borders to European produce. Bord Bia said that, to an extent, this loss was offset by increased sales to the US and further afield. The UK remains by far the most important destination for food and drink, accounting for 41% of all exports by value.
Simon Coveney, minister for agriculture, food and the marine said: "The food and drink industry has been a driving force in our economic recovery since 2009, delivering cumulative export growth of 51%. Irish producers and companies have yet again demonstrated in 2015 their ambition, innovativeness and ability to meet buyer and consumer needs in highly competitive and complex trading environments."
By Jake Davies