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A Natural Source of Pride

The expertise of the Irish farming industry and the commitment of individual farmers and their families are vital ingredients in the success of Irish dairy – here at home and abroad. We’re proud that ours set the standard by which other dairy products are measured. The goodness of Irish dairy is in so much of what we eat and drink, it’s no surprise that it’s also in our DNA.

The Irish dairy industry is a key component of the economy in Ireland, providing much needed employment spread across rural areas. Our industry processes over 7.5 billion litres of milk, across 30 sites and is supplied by 18,000 family farms, many of whom are owners of the primary business. Since the abolition of quotas, we are striving to be a global leader in the development of a high value, environmentally sustainable dairy industry based on our extensive grass-based dairy system. Irish dairy companies have invested hundreds of millions towards this goal, resulting in over €4 billion worth of exports in dairy products, ingredients and nutritional products per annum. Irish dairy is exported to 155+ markets worldwide with international markets beyond the EU becoming increasingly important. Irish primary dairies continue to be 100% Irish owned entities, and the quality of our produce is reflected in the fact that 3 of the world’s major specialised nutrition companies have chosen to base key secondary processing sites in Ireland.


Economic Impact:

The Irish dairy sector is a huge contributor to growth in economic activity across the rural and regional Irish economy supporting over 60,000 jobs from dairy farming (19,000) to milk processing/distribution, export marketing and research.

  • Ireland exports almost 90% of its dairy output to 120 countries across the globe.
  • The value of exports has doubled in line with a 50% increase in milk production since EU quotas were removed in 2015, from €2 BN to over €4 BN currently.
  • This growth in export values reflects increased global demand for dairy products and in particular increased demand for grass based sustainable dairy production.
  • Ireland’s status as the lowest carbon emitting dairy sector in the Northern Hemisphere is recognised across a growing global customer base.
  • The additional status of Irish grassland as a huge carbon sink storing up to 30 million tonnes of CO2 annually is currently being assessed under IPCC rules
  • Crucially in terms of Irish economy impact, every euro of exports of dairy products represents a 90 cent spend in the Irish economy.
  • Moreover, Dairy’s huge Irish economy spend on raw materials, wages and services now accounts for almost 10% of spending by all industry (DJEBI Annual Survey of Expenditure 2017 published February 2019)

Dairy economy growth comes from a combination of a major surge in global demand for dairy products particularly in emerging economies and the ending of supply controls in the EU with the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

Since 2015 Irish dairy output has increased in value by over 2 BN euro annually and by 60% by volume.

  • There are just 19,000 dairy farmers in Ireland (DAFF)
  • Producing over 7.5 BN litres of milk annually (CSO 2018)
  • Exports in 2018 were valued at €4.2 BN, double the value of pre quota levels.
  • The unit value of milk production has increased from an average of 42/45cent /litres in the last years of milk quota to just over 56 cent in 2018.
  • Even more significantly Irish economy Expenditure by the dairy sector was €3.8 BN  in 2018.
  • The Irish dairy sector buys 90% of its inputs and raw materials in the Irish economy.
  • The dairy industry accounted for almost 10% of spending by all industry in the Irish economy in 2018.

The impact of dairy expansion has been hugely significant in terms of return on investment (including state support) and even more importantly the huge economy wide impact of dairy expansion across the Irish economy.