The Poultry Sector plays an important role within the Irish agrifood sector, supporting around 6,000 jobs, most of these in rural areas.
The value of Irish poultry exports in 2018 increased by 1% to an over €280 million (CSO trade data), with the United Kingdom accounting for some 78% of this figure in value terms, a 2% decrease from the previous year. Other EU markets now account for almost 10% of Irish exports, with France leading the way followed closely by Finland and the Netherlands. Exports to third country markets now amounts to around 10% of export totals, with South Africa showing the biggest growth for Irish exporters: this market grew by 14% in 2018 to just under €30 million.
Irish production again hit record levels in 2018, with 98.6 million birds slaughtered in export-approved plants, an increase of 3.3% compared to 2017, with most of the increase evident in broiler and duck production. Overall, Irish poultry production is expected to exceed the 100 million mark in 2019.
While the outlook for the poultry sector is positive, the sector continues to face challenges particularly the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit. In this context, the pursuit and development of new markets is an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agrifood sector, as evidenced by the market development theme of Food Wise 2025. My Department is currently actively pursuing market access for poultry in a number of third country markets, including South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Avian influenza remains a threat. Following recent outbreaks in Europe, my Department continues to monitor the situation closely and engage with flock owners, with a view to remaining vigilant and implementing the necessary biosecurity measures required to safeguard Irish flocks.
The Rural Development programme 2014 – 2020 (RDP) is also providing key supports for the enhancement and the competitiveness of the poultry sector. The main areas for support in the RDP for the poultry sector include support for on-farm capital investment under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II) scheme and knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions.