Irish poultry processors boost exports

The Irish poultry sector enjoyed a year of rising production and strong exports, which made up for a drop in retail sales to the domestic market.

According to the latest Export Performance and Prospects report from the Irish Food Board (Bord Bia), poultrymeat exports grew by 4% last year to €230m  (£190m).

While more than 80% of this trade was with the UK, the real growth area, says the report, was in sales of frozen chicken to continental Europe, especially France. This business was valued at €30m (£25m) and benefited in part from lower shipments to the EU from Brazil in 2013.

Exports to the UK were more static, as strong sales of processed product were offset by lower sales of fresh and frozen.

The home market for Irish poultrymeat was also subdued, with a 3% decline in retail sales, despite the fact that chicken prices run at less than 80% of the average meat price.

Looking at the year ahead, Bord Bia predicts a substantial 3% growth in global production of poultrymeat, led by Brazil, China, India, Russia and the USA.

“But with global consumption also set to rise, the prospects for EU exports remains reasonably good, with increased shipments expected to Africa and Asia,” said the report. “These developments suggest that EU broiler prices may show modest growth in 2014.”

For the Irish food market as a whole, the total value of exports was up 9% in 2013 to a record €10bn (£8bn), dominated by dairy products and beef. “This impressive growth in exports by our largest indigenous industry reflects its persistent focus on innovation and differentiation as it seeks, successfully, to boost its position across key markets,” said Bord Bia chairman Michael Carey.

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