ICT sector in Ireland

Food and Drink sector in Ireland

Ireland remains the UK’s largest market for food and drink exports and the world’s largest importer of UK food & drink products totalling £3.2 billion in 2012.

Market overview

With cultural similarities, close sea and air links, the same language and similar regulatory frameworks – Ireland is an ideal first step market for UK companies.

The UK exported £3.2billion food and drink products to Ireland in 2012.

By financial value, using SITC definitions, the principal products being imported are:

  • Cereal and cereal preparations

  • Meat and meat preparations

  • Beverages

  • Dairy Products

  • Vegetables and fruit

Key opportunities

Ireland’s agri-food industry is a key component of the economy. It accounts for 8% of GDP and a similar proportion of total employment, amounting to almost 160,000 jobs. It accounts for a major proportion of exports of Irish-owned enterprises and its products are sold in over 170 markets around the world. There is a robust plan in place, Harvest 2020, to increase the productivity of the sector and significant growth has already been seen. As part of Harvest 2020 there are significant opportunities for the supply of raw materials as well as around research and development. Irish agri-food exports in particular have experienced strong growth recently.

Ireland remains the UK’s largest export market for food and drink products and the importance cannot be underestimated. During the 2011 visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a visit was made to the English Market in Cork, were Her Majesty met and spoke with local food and drink producers. Agri-food was also identified in March 2012 in the Joint Statement issued by the Taoiseach and Prime Minister as a key area for cooperation between the two countries. This lead to the development of the first ever UK-Ireland Food Business Innovation Summit in May 2013, supported by UKTI. The Summit brought over 300 leading UK and Irish food organisations together to discuss the key opportunities that exist for innovation in the food sector and the considerable potential for closer co-operation in the agri-food sector. With keynote addresses by the Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon. Owen Paterson, MP, the summit set the groundwork for a new era of collaboration across the two islands and help increase growth and competitiveness by reinforcing our innovation capacity and helping towards the development of a wider European focus on innovation.

Latest export opportunities in the Food & Drink sector

Latest export opportunities in Ireland

Getting into the market

There are few barriers to entry with the same language, similar legal and regulatory structures as well as numerous cultural and business links.

That said, British companies wishing to enter and / or develop their business in the Irish market are advised to undertake as much market research and planning as possible. UKTI’s team in Ireland, with its wide local knowledge and sector experience, can assist in this.

Assistance includes, but is not limited to:

  • Provision of market information;

  • Validated lists of agents / distributors / other contacts as required;

  • Key market players or potential customers in the Irish market;

  • Establishment of interest of such contacts in working with you;

  • Arranging appointments; and

  • Organising seminars or other events for you to meet contacts and promote your company in the Irish market;

  • And other tasks as required.

More about doing business in Ireland


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Food and Drink Sector

Major Events

Food & Hospitality Ireland 2013 (incorporating SHOP)

Showcase of products and services dedicated to Ireland’s food, drink, hospitality and retail sector.

Date: 18-19 September, RDS Dublin

Web: http://www.foodhospitality

IFEX 2014

Northern Ireland’s number one food, drink, retail and hospitality event

Date: 11-13 March, King’s Hall, Belfast

Web: http://www.ifexexhibition.co.uk

A Taste of Britain 2014

A trade development visit to Ireland aimed at new to export UK food and drink SMEs organised by UKTI

Date: TBC

Location: Dublin

CATEX 2015

Food service industry trade show

Date: February 2015, RDS Dublin

Web: http://www.catexexhibition.com/

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Food & Drink
Countries: Ireland
Export Action Plan