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Agencies and sectorsExports and importsCareers

The Irish Food Industry

Agencies and sectors

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development regulates food production in Ireland. The Department of Health also plays a role. However, independent agencies carry out many important functions.

These agencies include:

  • Bord Bia
  • An Bord Glas
  • Bord Iascaigh Mhara
  • Department of Marine and Natural Resources
  • Teagasc
  • Enterprise Ireland
  • Food Safety Authority


The food industry is made up of nine different sectors:

  • Dairy and ingredients
  • Lamb
  • Poultry
  • Pigmeat
  • Beef
  • Edible horticulture
  • Mariculture
  • Beverages
  • Prepared consumer foods

The total value of the Irish food and drink industry in 1999 was over 12 billion euro.


Exports and Imports

Major food exports

  • Dairy and ingredients: increase in whole milk powder, butter and cheese; decrease in milk.
  • Lamb:  France is the major market with an increase in the Mediterranean market.
  • Pork and bacon:  The main market is Germany but world over supply has adversely affected pig meat.
  • Beef:  U.K. is our main market with Holland, Italy and France as target markets. Egypt, Russia and the Gulf are also significant markets.
  • Horticulture:  Our biggest exports are fresh mushrooms, which make up 50% of the U.K. market.
  • Beverages:  There has been and increased growth in the sales of beer, cream liquors, spirits, mineral waters and soft drinks.
  • Prepared consumer foods: This area has seen the biggest growth in recent years due to changes in lifestyles. Within this sector, ready meals, convenience foods and other value-added foods demonstrated the highest percentage growth of any food category. Confectionery also performed well.

Major food imports

Most of the foods we export, we also import e.g. when our production is out of season, or when we do not have enough to meet consumer demands.


Careers opportunities in the food industry

There exist a wide variety of careers opportunities, ranging over the following areas:

  • Supplying
  • Production
  • Marketing
  • Retailing
  • Catering
  • Food technology
  • Food chemistry
  • Food research
  • Dietetics
  • Quality control

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