Sector profile

Key statistics
  • 230,000 jobs linked to the agri-food sector
  • €26bn turnover in the sector
  • Supplies the majority of produce to Ireland’s €14bn domestic grocery and food service sector
  • €11.15bn worth of exports in 2016 to 180 countries
  • Half of exports by indigenous Irish companies
  • Destinations – UK 37%, rest of Europe 32%, third countries 31%
  • Total payroll in the sector is €2.1bn – more than any other manufacturing sector
  • €11.2bn worth of materials purchased - 71% are sourced in Ireland
  • €3.6bn worth of services purchased – 51% are sourced in Ireland
  • Ireland is the largest net exporter of dairy ingredients, beef and lamb in Europe
  • Ireland is the largest exporter in Europe of powdered infant formula
  • Ireland exports over 80% of its dairy and beef production
  • Ireland is the UK’s largest supplier of food and drink

Key facts
  • The agri-food industry has deeper links to the wider economy than the rest of manufacturing.
  • It accounts for almost half of direct expenditure by the entire manufacturing sector in the Irish economy (payroll, Irish materials and Irish services).
  • As a result, the sector has a high employment multiplier, which means it supports employment in other parts of the economy in a way that other sectors don’t.
  • Uniquely, this economic activity is consistently dispersed throughout all regions of Ireland, especially rural areas. It is therefore also at heart of the social fabric of rural Ireland.
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