The Irish Dairy Industry demonstrated its resilience in 2020, utilising a record 8.2bn litre milk pool to deliver an export value of €5.068bn, an increase of 1% on 2019. This increase in export value was achieved despite a challenging macro environment with strong global milk supply, constrained global oil prices and economic uncertainty driven by Covid-19, Brexit and other trade and supply chain issues.
From a product perspective, butter was Irelands flagship product with total exports valued at €965 million, driven for the most part by retail demand and consumers turning to home-baking and scratch-cooking during lockdown.
The closure of foodservice outlets across the globe has had a negative impact on cheese demand, however strong retail demand coupled with the ingenuity and agility of the Irish industry to pivot, including new sku formats limited the impact. Irish exports of cheese declined by 7% in volume terms in 2020, but export value remained close to the 2019 figure of €956 million as a result of strong global prices.
Irish dairy powders also had a robust year, with Fat Filled Milk Powder (FFMP) the most noticeable registering a 7% increase in export value to €834 million.
2021 performance year-to-date
Despite Irish milk supply registering a 9.5% year-on-year increase in milk supply in Q1 of this year, dairy exports were back year-on-year by over 16% in volume and 12% in value terms. The year-on-year decline can be attributed to 2 main factors; 1. Irish exporter’s forward moving stock to the UK, Irelands largest export market in 2020 in advance of Brexit deadlines which is exaggerating the decline and 2. Global trade logistical issues. Strong commodity prices have helped increase farm-gate prices, and it is envisaged as stock is used up that exports will come back in line with trends in the second half of the year.
The Bord Bia Grass Fed Standard has been launched and is in the process of being rolled out across the Irish dairy industry. The standard is the first of its kind to be operated at a national level, with all Irish processors expressing ambition to become certified to the standard. Currently, there are 12 processing sites certified to the standard with others currently undergoing the audit process.
A dispatch database for member plants and international packers as per the Logo Use Policy has been developed and is ready for use. Bord Bia have engaged with members who are interested in using the database for their products.
Bord Bia have also begun engaging with member processors regarding their priority ‘phase 2’ products which include mixed products ie flavoured cheese, fat filled milk powder etc. The feedback from this engagement will be used to shape the criteria in the Grass Fed Logo Use Policy for those products.