The value of Irish poultry exports in 2018 increased by 1% to over €280 million according to CSO trade data, with the United Kingdom accounting for some 78% of this figure in value terms. 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 amount 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 2019 remains broadly 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.
As in other meat sectors, global trade conditions will be crucial in determining the outlook for the Irish poultry sector over the medium to longer term.