In 2017, Ireland exported dairy products, including dairy powders to 147 countries totalling over €4.6 billion worth of produce, an increase of over 17% compared to 2016, representing high-quality value-added produce. CSO estimates of dairy exports in the January-November 2018 period (latest available) show that they increased by 2.8% in volume compared to 2017.
Irish dairy products have a highly rated and hard earned reputation in terms of quality, safety and sustainability, and this gives them a competitive edge in markets over the world.
The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish dairy exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the dairy sector, as evidenced by the objectives set out for the industry in Food Wise 2025. Food Wise 2025 outlines the potential for growth in dairy exports to new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Gulf region.
The long-term fundamentals of the global dairy market are strong, with growing global demand projected from fast developing countries with increasing middle classes and more westernised diets. Whilst significant challenges have continued throughout recent years, in particular price volatility, there is confidence that the Irish and EU dairy sector is well placed to gain from the opportunity presented by expanding global demand.
Both business and retail customers for Irish dairy products will continue to demand that the Irish dairy industry operates to the highest standards of food safety, environmental sustainability and animal welfare. In addition to the high standards by which Irish dairy farmers operate, we need to credibly verify these standards to the satisfaction of our international customers. Programmes such as Origin Green and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, the Dairy Sustainability Ireland Initiative as well as environmental schemes under the Rural Development Programme demonstrate our collective commitment to environmental sustainability.
My Department and I, in conjunction with other stakeholders, including the Irish dairy companies and agencies such as Bord Bia, will continue to play a key role in building the market opportunities for Irish dairy, for example through trade missions, inward and outward technical visits and inspections, and other trade facilitation and promotional activities.