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Contribution of the Agri-Food Sector to the Economy

Gross Value Added

It is estimated that the agri-food sector[1]  accounted for approximately 6.3% of Gross Value Added[2]  (GVA) at factor cost in 2009. The primary agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors together accounted for approximately 2.4% of GVA. The food (including fish) and beverage industry, together with the wood-processing sector, accounted for circa 4% of GVA in 2008.



Employment in the agri-food sector accounted for 133,400 jobs[3] , or 7.2% of total employment in 2010[4] . The composition of employment in the sector is outlined in Figure 1.1

[1]The Agri-Food Sector is taken to include primary production (Agriculture, Fishing and Forestry) along with the food and beverage and wood processing sectors (excludes tobacco).
[2] Gross value added at factor cost is GVA at market prices less any indirect taxes plus any subsidies.
[3]These employment figures correspond to International Labour Organisation definitions and as such relate to persons who indicated that agriculture was their principal source of income in the week prior to the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS). As such, persons that work in agriculture but whose primary source of income is off-farm are not included.
[4]QNHS quarter 2 is used for this calculation.



The Food and drink sector had a very good year in terms of exports in 2010. Food and drink exports in 2010 are expected to show an increase of 11% to €7.88bn.  Dairy exports rose 17% to €2.29bn and meat and livestock exports rose by 8% to €2.66bn.  Overall food and drink exports accounted for 30% of the growth in total merchandise exports.  The UK market improved, greatly helped by a better exchange rate (weaker euro against sterling).  There was also a very big improvement in other EU markets.

Bord Bia estimates a 17% rise in dairy exports to €2.39bn and an 8% increase in meat and livestock exports to 2.44bn.  A weaker euro against sterling and the dollar later in 2010 helped this strong performance.  Overall food and drink exports accounted for 30% of the growth in total merchandise exports.  More details on the export performance of various commodity sectors is contained in Chapters 3 and 5.