The Agri-food industry is Ireland’s largest and
most critically important indigenous industry”

A sector with a long historic and proud tradition of producing excellent food. This strong agri-food sector produces over 230,000 jobs and its total payroll in 2014 was 1.8 billion euro, making it higher than any other manufacturing sector (FDI, 2014).  It includes approximately 600 food and drinks firms throughout the country that export 85% of our food and seafood to more than 160 countries worldwide (Teagasc).

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) currently reports the agri-food sector in Ireland contributes a value of €26 billion to the national economy and generates 6.3% of gross value added. The sector accounts for half of purchased Irish goods and services by the manufacturing industry and just over half of exports by indigenous manufacturing industries. Research has shown that Ireland’s investment in agriculture produces a far bigger return than investment in other sectors. That is because agriculture sources 71% of raw materials and services from Irish suppliers, compared to 44% for all manufacturing companies (Teagasc).

In terms of the destination of Irish food and drink exports in 2011, the United Kingdom at around 43% remained the principal market with sales of just over €3.7 billion. Continental EU markets account for 34% of food and drink exports with a combined value in excess of €3 billion (Teagasc). Exports have surpassed €10bn and a new national 2025 strategy is being developed to build on Food Harvest 2020 (FDI, 2015). This will reflect the opportunities and challenges that arise from the removal of milk quotas, the re-opening of international markets, future bi-lateral trade deals, increased volatility, increased supply chain consolidation and changing consumer preferences.


Key statistics

  • 230,000 jobs linked to the agri-food sector

  • €26bn turnover in the sector

  • €10.5bn worth of exports in 2014 to 120 countries

  • Half of exports by indigenous Irish companies

  • Destinations – UK 40%, rest of Europe 31%, international markets 29%

  • Total payroll in the sector is €1.8bn – more than any other manufacturing sector

  • €9.6bn worth of materials purchased - 76% are sourced in Ireland

  • €3bn worth of services purchased – 55% are sourced in Ireland


Key facts

  • Supplies the majority of produce to Ireland’s €14bn domestic grocery and food service sector

  • Ireland is the largest net exporter of dairy ingredients, beef and lamb in Europe

  • Ireland is the largest exporter in Europe of powdered infant formula

  • Ireland exports over 80% of its dairy and beef production

  • Ireland is the UK’s largest supplier of food and drink

  • Irish beef is listed by more than 82 retail chains across Europe

  • Ireland exports over half the pigmeat it produces – to over 60 countries around the world



FAOSTAT, IAA College Ireland Conference, Irish Funds Industry Association, World Trade Organisation Time Series Trade Statistics, IDA Ireland, IBEC , Enterprise Ireland, US Bureau of Economic Analysis, FDII, Bord Bia, Teagasc

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