Food and drink exports were down 9% in May, according to the latest data from the Central Statistics Office.

Bord Bia said the overall fall in exports of €126 million so far this year, shows the impact the pandemic has had on international trade.

This follows a decade of record growth, which saw €13 billion euro in food and drink exports last year.

In 2019, Bord Bia and Irish exporters participated in more than 30 high profile trade shows around the world, however due to the pandemic it said it will be taking a new virtual approach.

Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia CEO, said they are focusing on market diversification.

"It is critical as we seek to trade our way through 2020 and beyond in more innovative ways than ever to deliver the additional €6 billion in exports needed to meet the ambitious €19 billion target of Foodwise 2025", she said.

Dairy and meat are the two key pillars of Ireland’s international food and drink exports, accounting for almost two thirds of the sectors’ exports annually.

In the first five months of the year, Bord Bia said strong value growth in dairy has offset declines in other categories accounting for €2.05 billion of exports, representing a year on year increase of €135 million.

The UK is the only region where dairy exports declined, largely due to lower cheese exports.

Despite the agility of the dairy sector in navigating the significant international turbulence to date, Bord Bia cautioned that due to the medium to long term nature of dairy contracts, the full impact of Covid-19 has yet to be felt in dairy exports and the outlook for year-to-go remains uncertain. 

In addition, primary meat exports are now reflecting the decline in demand in Europe.

In sectoral terms, Bord Bia said the most significant year-to-date export decreases have been witnessed in alcohol, down 21% to €463 million, followed by seafood, down 7% to €205 million and live exports, down 36% to €45 million.