Belfast Telegraph

Thriving British market helps food and drinks sector to grow

By Margaret Canning

Sales in Northern Ireland’s food and drink processing sector grew to £3.2bn last year, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

DARD’s annual report said the provisional statistic showed a growth in sales of 3.2% from £3.13m in 2008.

Nine of the 10 food and drinks subsectors traded profitably in 2008 with poultry the only subsector failing to generate a profit.

In 2008 the sector accounted for almost 20% of total manufacturing sales, almost 17% of manufacturing external sales and 25.1% of manufacturing employment.

The report, entitled Size and Performance of the Northern Ireland Food and Drinks Processing Sector, recorded sales, exports, value added and number of employees of each subsector of food and drink processing.

The milk and milk products and beef and sheepmeat subsectors were the two largest contributors to total gross turnover in 2008. Together, these subsectors accounted for 49.5% of the total value of gross turnover in 2008, up 2% on their contribution in 2007.

From 1989 up until 2003, Northern Ireland was continuously recorded as the most important market for the sector. But since 2004 the British market has become more important.

The British market continued to grow in 2007 and 2008 with Great Britain accounting for 39% of sales in both years.

Belfast Telegraph