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 just under 10% of Irish exports, with France leading the way, followed closely by Finland and the Netherlands. Exports to third country markets amount to around 10% of export totals, with South Africa showing the biggest growth for Irish exporters, growing 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. Irish poultry production is on course to exceed the 100 million mark in 2019.
The market access process can be lengthy one and is largely determined by the requirements of importing countries. My Department’s priorities in this regard are decided in consultation with stakeholders and opportunities for poultry meat exports to a number of third country markets, including Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia are currently being pursued. Earlier this year, agreement was reached with the South African authorities on a revised veterinary health certificate for the export of poultry meat permitting the use of marinades/sauces of non-animal origin. The South African authorities also agreed a separate bilateral certificate for the export of butter-basted whole turkeys from Ireland.
While the outlook for the sector 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 agri-food sector, as evidenced by the market development theme of Food Wise 2025. 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.