Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector
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Agricultural production is a key driver of the Irish economy. A major livestock producer, Ireland manufactures many derivatives and value-added products from its predominantly cattle-based sector. Notably, the vast majority (around 80-90 percent) of its beef and dairy products are exported. Ireland has very limited horticultural and grain production on account of its topography and climate, and it imports around 80 percent of its animal feed, food, and beverage needs. The Irish economy is expected to remain under pressure in 2023 due to continuing inflationary pressures and challenging macroeconomic conditions.

Ireland is reliant on imports to supplement domestic production to feed its population, provide them with choice, and drive economic growth. The United States ranks as Ireland’s fourth largest source of agricultural and related products and is the largest non-European country behind the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Increased inflation, slowing global growth, volatile energy prices, and increased cost-of-living have resulted in many consumers living with a sense of uncertainty. Increased prices have resulted in consumers paying more for their shopping. The Irish foodservice market is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and while consumers are eating out again, they are still not at pre-pandemic levels. Eating out habits have changed as more people work from home with Thursday night becoming the new Friday night for many.

Leading Sub-Sectors 

For the United States, intermediate products remain the most important sector, amounting to $645.2 million of the total $808.3 million U.S. exports of agricultural, fish and forestry products to Ireland during the 2022 calendar year. The single most important category for U.S. agricultural exports to Ireland is lightly processed or bulk commodity products destined to be incorporated into rations for Ireland’s livestock industry. As Ireland has very limited capacity to produce grains for animal feed it must import significant quantities. The trade is highly dependent on global prices and local harvest success.

In 2022, distilled grains; other feeds, meals, and fodders; consumer-oriented products; forest products; and eggs and products achieved their highest imports from the United States since 1970.

Connected to its livestock dominance, in 2022, Ireland imported $3.7 million worth of bovine semen. The United States currently has over 20 percent market share of this trade. Trade in live horses, for the racing industry, from the United States to Ireland amount to around $25 million each year.

Edible Fats & Oils, Vegetable Saps & Extracts, Essential Oils, Whey, Peptones/Other Proteins, Flavorings and Enzymes are imported to support Ireland’s manufacturing sector with ingredients not readily available in Ireland. This includes organic ingredients.

Grocery items such as sauces, chips, cookies, confectionery are imported directly, as well as fresh produce/nuts not produced in Ireland, including sweet potatoes, almonds, grapes, and walnuts.

Table:  Top U.S. Agricultural Product Exports to Ireland by Value & Calendar Year 

($ Millions) 

   2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Essential Oils146.5147.6134.7183.5200.9
Distilled Grains91.363.365.2104.4156.4*
Other Feeds, Meals, Fodders124.275.079.9115.4147.1*
Consumer Oriented Total53.045.740.656.667.9*
Soybean Meal27.64.016.960.262.9
Forest Products44.746.944.041.556.9*
Vegetable Oils21.619.516.613.217.9
Eggs & Products1.*
  • Denotes highest export levels since CY1970.


Opportunities exist in all sectors.  However, research is needed to identify routes to market and main players. Sectors showing total import growth in the last three years include: animal feed; sugar; bakery goods, cereals, and pasta; consumer-oriented groceries; and alcoholic drinks.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is represented in Ireland by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) based at the U.S. Embassy in London, United Kingdom. FAS works to improve foreign market access for U.S. agricultural, fish and forestry products and operates programs designed to build new markets and improve the competitive position of U.S. agriculture in the global marketplace.

Website:, X (Twitter): @USagricultureUK, Instagram: @savorthestates  

Information on FAS global services can be found at FAS Online.   

Board Bia:

Irish government Department of Agriculture:

Food Safety Authority of Ireland:

Irish Grain and Feed Association: