I am very cognisant of the important contribution that the Irish beef sector makes to the economy. Along with the 78,000 beef farmers, the processing and preserving of meat and production of meat products employs over 19,000 people. The value of cattle output at producer (farmgate) prices in 2020 is estimated to be €2.28 billion or about 26% of the total goods output at producer prices in primary agriculture. Beef was exported to more than 70 countries around the globe in 2020 with a total value of €2.33 billion.
The sector plays a key role in the wider rural and local economy with estimates of output multipliers of around 2.5 for beef production and 1.9 for food processing, compared to an average multiplier of 1.4 for the rest of the economy and 1.2 for foreign owned firms ensuring that beef output produces a much wider return to the rural economy.
Data is available annually from the CSO examining Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at Factor Cost up to 2019. GDP at factor cost is equal to Gross value added (GVA) at factor cost. The table below shows the percentage contribution of GDP at factor cost (or GVA) for the agri-food sector as a whole.
It gives the GDP at factor cost for the country (row 2), GVA for primary agriculture, fisheries and forestry at factor cost (row 3) which will include beef production on farms, GVA in food & beverages sector which includes beef processing in meat plants etc.
This breakdown is not readily available from the CSO but is a special request from my Department each year. The 2020 data will be available after July.
In Ireland, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices is calculated using two approaches viz. the income and expenditure approaches. The main components of the income estimate are (1) profits of companies and of the self-employed, (2) remuneration of employees (wages, salaries, pensions and employers’ contributions to social insurance), and (3) rent of dwellings (imputed in the case of owner-occupied). Adjustments are made in respect of stock appreciation (to eliminate the effect of price changes on the level of stocks). On the expenditure side, estimates are made of personal expenditure on consumers’ goods and services, expenditure by public authorities on current goods and services, gross domestic fixed capital formation, and the value of physical changes in stocks. The value of exports is then added and imports are deducted.
While it is possible to calculate an overall GDP value for Primary Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and for the Food and Beverage sector, as shown above, the level of detail required to produce a reliable GDP value for the Irish beef sector is not available.