Exports of food and drink increased last year by 11% to reach €7.9bn.

Bord Bia has said the sector was a major contributor to the economy's strong export performance in 2010.

Bord Bia said this performance was helped by a more stable consumer environment, reduced exchange rate pressures, improved competitiveness and rising global prices for most agricultural commodities.

The chairman of Bord Bia, Dan Browne, said all the major sectors recorded increases - with dairy exports jumping by more than €300m, or 17%.

Meat and livestock exports were almost €200m higher, while beverage and prepared food exports were also up significantly.

Bord Bia welcomed increased sales on continental Europe.

Overall, prospects for this year remain positive and a survey of manufacturers shows increased optimism.