UK accounts for €1bn in agricultural exports but Middle East expansion could benefit
Ireland’s €20 billion food and beverage industry is turning to the Middle East for sales as the United Kingdom, its biggest buyer, prepares to move ahead with Brexit and leave the European Union.
The UK accounts for 43 per cent of Ireland’s agriculture exports, buying about €1 billion each of beef and dairy products a year, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said in an interview in Dubai.
Ireland’s biggest markets in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia, at about €135 million a year, and the United Arab Emirates, at about €60 million, with cheese and other dairy products leading sales in both, he said.
Ireland reached an agreement this week to sell processed, cooked, minced and bone-in beef to Saudi Arabia, Mr Creed said.
No country is feeling the pressure from the UK’s vote to leave the trading area more than Ireland. The UK is the top destination for the country’s exports including Guinness beer and Kerrygold butter.
Thirty years of EU quotas that limited milk production ended in 2015, leaving 18,000 Irish dairy farmers to look for new export markets to take in their growing output.