The annual report from the Department of Agriculture and Marine on the agri-food sector has set out the scale of the sector and highlights the dependency of the food production sector on exports to the UK.

74% of poultry meat produced here is exported to the UK. Poultry production reached record levels, according to the annual report, coming in at 161,000 tonnes. 

Over 106 million birds were slaughtered in 2019. Exports actually dropped last year by 4% and the export value of the poultry sector was €294m. 

Today's report claims that Ireland is now the sixth largest net exporter of beef in the world. Beef exports totalled €2.3 billion and 90% of exports were to EU member states. 

The report also sets out how the volume of live exports increased by 22% to 300,000 head of cattle, while the cattle kill for 2019 fell by 4.4% to 1.7 million. 

The export of pig meat to China is also booming, according to today's report. 

It jumped by 50%, mainly due to increased demanded from there as a result of African Swine Fever (ASF). Overall €890m worth of pigmeat was exported - a year on year increase of 8%. 

"This growth in export values vindicates the accurate direction and focuses of the Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025 strategies," the Department said. 

Ireland produced 5% of the EU's milk last year. Dairy exports were worth €5 billion, which was up 12% on 2018. 

The UK accounted for 20% of dairy exports. 

The report also targets seafood as a potential export growth area. 

It stated that consumption is predicted to grow worldwide by 42 million tonnes per year, as the world's population is set to reach 8 billion people by 2025. 

Last year seafood exports were worth €577m. While some areas were "challenged",  the report stated that other areas boomed, with salmon exports up by 25% in value. 

The department noted that EU markets accounted for 50% of seafood exports. 

Shellfish exports dropped in 2019 with frozen prawns the largest shellfish export. 

The report also recorded a 15% drop in oyster exports. It said that 2019 was a "tough year" for oyster exports, with volumes dropping to all the big export destinations. 

The overall scale of the agri-food sector to Ireland's exports is €14.5 billion and it accounts for 9.5% of total exports. 

A total of 164,400 people are employed in the agri-food sector.