Ireland - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sector
Last published date: 2022-11-30

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. 


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 base. However, 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. Ireland receives a considerable proportion of its agricultural commodity and grocery product needs from the UK, although this has been impacted (5-10 percent) by the UK’s departure from the European Union (Brexit). Ireland also imports from EU countries such as the Netherlands (beer, cut flowers), France (beer, wine), and Italy (wine, non-alcoholic beverages). Major third country trading partners are Chile (wine, apples), Argentina (wine, animal feed), and New Zealand (wine, bovine semen). Ireland is a key destination for U.S. animal feed ingredient exports, and post-Brexit the United States is increasing its trade in almost all food and beverage categories. In terms of all agricultural products, the U.S. Bureau of Census data shows a 43 percent uplift in the value of exports to Ireland in 2021 compared to 2020, and data for the first six months of 2022 show a 47 percent increase compared to the first half of 2021. Depending on the economics, U.S. products including wine, fresh and dried fruit, and confectionery may still be shipped via the UK, but some products also reach Ireland via France or the Netherlands. Import demand is forecast to increase slightly in 2021, since local production is forecast to increase by one percent. 

Agricultural Food, Feed, and Beverage Trade (USD Millions) 





2022 forecast 

Total Local Production 





Total Exports 





Total Imports 





Imports from the U.S. 





Total Market Size 





Exchange Rates 

1USD = 0.89 EUR 

1USD = 0.88 EUR 

1USD = 0.89 EUR 

1USD = 0.93 

(Total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports) 

This table covers U.S. Bureau of the Census, Agricultural Related BICO Categories 

Total Local Production – Estimated from Bord Bia Export Performance & Prospects 2021-2022 

Data sources: U.S Bureau of the Census/Ireland’s Central Statistical Office/Trade Data Monitor 

Leading Sub-Sectors 

The 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.  It really depends on whether Irish farmers have their own feedstock for animals in any given year or whether there is a need to import.  It is also dependent on whether the European Union approval system for genetically engineered crops has kept pace with what is planted in the United States.  If the United States plants a variety of soy or corn not yet approved for food/feed in the EU, trade in derivatives of these products ceases.  

In 2022, almost 50 percent of agricultural and food imports into Ireland from the United States were animal feed ingredients. The lines below show Ireland’s import values from the United States and other main suppliers for calendar year 2021: 

  • Distillers Dried Grains: United States ($60 million); January-June 2022 is 180 percent higher than the same period in 2021. Main competitor = Canada ($20 million) 

  • Other animal feed, including Corn Gluten Feed: United States ($114 million); Argentina ($74 million); Russia ($37 million);  

  • Soybean meal: Argentina ($184 million); United States ($46 million); Paraguay ($13 million); Canada ($10 million); 

In addition, connected to its livestock dominance, Ireland imports around $2-3 million worth of bovine semen every year. The United States currently has over 20 percent market share of this trade, and likely more since product is also routed via the UK. Live horses for the high-end racing industry are $30-35 million per year in U.S. exports. 

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 such as sweet potatoes, almonds, grapes, and walnuts.  


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 Confectionery, Consumer-Oriented Groceries, and Alcoholic Drinks. 

Foodservice, particularly eat-on-the-go, and fast-food sectors represent the fastest growing areas.  For retail, healthy ingredients to make ‘clean’ labels are required for most grocery products including ready meals, snacking solutions, and breakfast cereals. 


Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. Embassy, London 

Foreign Agricultural Service: 

Board Bia:  

Irish government Department of Agriculture: 

Food Safety Authority of Ireland:  

Irish Grain and Feed Association: