Despite significant challenges in 2020 arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, Irish dairy exports performed strongly with total export value of €4.653 billion and volume of 1.460 million tonnes for 2020 up to the end of November, according to CSO trade data. This compares with the same period in 2019 with equivalent dairy exports worth €4.683 billion and 1.494 million tonnes with food preparations, butter and cheese emerging as the strongest export product categories. Bord Bia’s Export Performance & Prospects 2020/21 report indicates Irish dairy exports for 2020 as a whole are likely to exceed €5 billion for the second consecutive year, with an estimated year-on-year increase of 3%.
In 2021, global dairy demand growth is expected to exceed supply. Irish dairy produce is well-positioned to benefit from increasing demand, having exported to 148 countries in 2020. While the UK is our strongest trade partner, accounting for 20% of dairy exports by value in 2019, dairy produce benefits from being the most diversified category of Irish food and drink exports, with 49% of all dairy exports destined for markets outside the UK and the EU-26. China and the US are the top third-country export destinations for Irish dairy produce, while the Netherlands and Germany remain our strongest EU trading partners.
Faced with continuing market challenges into 2021, ongoing focus on market development is a key priority for my Department. I will continue to work with Bord Bia on market promotion events and Trade Missions throughout the year in order to further expand our key international and European markets, driving resilience through market diversification and product innovation, and expanding future growth opportunities for Irish primary producers and exporters.