Agriculture & Fisheries / Ireland

Ireland to diversify agri-business after Brexit

Brexit has prompted Ireland to rethink its export strategy for food and drink goods.

Ireland to diversify agri-business after Brexit

Ireland has long been world-famous for its food and drink, and its agribusiness goods can now be found in more than 175 countries. Yet, the Irish are not ones to rest on their laurels, especially in times of heightened unpredictability.

The future EU’s trade regulations with a post-Brexit UK present a grave situation for Irish agribusiness, considering that in 2015 the UK was the main export market of Irish food and drink, accounting for 41% of all exports. A hard-Brexit from the EU, one resulting in complete removal of the UK from the EU’s single market, would undermine the livelihoods of the 139,860 family farms. Such a political juncture has rightly been met with a heavy response that has rallied the country’s agriculture leaders to introduce products to new markets.

Since 90 percent of Ireland’s agribusiness products are export-bound, plans to diversify are well founded. Two large markets in particular have come on the radar – the US and Asia. Both have large appetites that can be satisfied by connecting customers with the right niche. “Ireland’s historic ties with the US have helped our exporters carve out a $955 million market,” says Michael Creed, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine, citing Irish beef and dairy as two perennial favorites. Still, greater opportunities remain untapped. “Globally we are confident Irish exports for these products will rise 40 percent by 2025,” said Creed. Meanwhile, a richer Far East is demanding more upmarket products. “There is a growing middle class in Asia that is demanding more high-quality food,” says Creed. “This has lead to the signing of many bilateral deals.”

“Globally we are confident Irish exports for these products [beef and dairy] will rise 40 percent by 2025.” – Michael Creed, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Marine

In particular, the country’s dairy industry has been tapped by investors as worthy of watching. Ever since milk quotas were lifted in 2015, Ireland’s dairy industry has been churning out bullish forecasts. Dairy output was 5.4 billion litres last year, and by 2020, the Irish Dairy Board is aiming to produce 8 billion. More supply doesn’t necessarily conjure up demand, but it’ll provide the capacity to venture Irish brands into the hands of new customers.