According to the CSO, Ireland exported almost €2.4 billion worth of beef with a volume of nearly 135,000 tonnes, to approx. 70 countries in 2018.
Opening new markets and expanding existing ones is a key part of my Department's response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy. In the last two years, my Department has opened a number of new markets for Irish beef including China, Qatar, Kuwait and Ukraine, while at the same time securing expansions in beef access in other markets including Japan and Singapore.
In 2020, my Department will continue to pursue the opening of new markets and the enhancement of existing ones. My Department works closely with stakeholders, and is guided by Bord Bia research, in identifying priority markets for its market access efforts. However, the pace of market access negotiations is generally determined by the importing country, so it is difficult to accurately forecast when a given market will open.
There is growing demand projected from emerging economies with increasing middle classes and more protein-rich diets. There is confidence that the Irish food industry is well placed to gain from the opportunity presented by this expanding demand, underpinned by the success of our efforts and those of the Irish food industry.
The role of my Department is to open up markets for the industry and it is then up to the industry, with the support of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of these opportunities. However, the actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including as global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.