Please give an overview of your sector?
The Agri-Food Industry remains one of Ireland's most important indigenous industries. Ireland is known all over the world as the "The Food Island" Around 116,000 people are employed in Ireland's agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors.
See Food Harvest Report 2025 click here.
The Agri-Food Sector can be sub divided into the following areas:
- Milk and Dairy Products
- Cattle and Beef
- Poultry and Eggs
- The Organic Sector
- Prepared Foods
- Chilled and Frozen Foods
- Food Preparations
- Irish Horse Industry
- Sea Fisheries and Aquaculture
Farming skills used to be passed on from one generation to the next, however, due to the scientific and technical methods now involved, relevant training is also a requirement, particularly when applying for grant aid.
The Irish horticultural industry is an important economic sector in Ireland, the sector encompasses vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, flower bulbs, trees and mushrooms and protected crops. Within these product groups, long-lasting experience in research and development support a modern, progressive and dynamic sector in meeting the challenges ahead and capitalising on the opportunities of the future.
A growing horticulture sector can now provide a range of attractive career opportunities that can also potentially lead to business ownership. With the wide range of options available in Teagasc Horticultural Colleges, people with established careers outside of horticulture who wish to switch can easily access the sector.
Teagasc offers a wide range of courses in its centres nationwide.
What is the size and scope of the sector?
The agrifood sector in Ireland is thriving. Figures released by Bord Bia show that the value of Irish food and drink exports increased by 12%, or €1 billion, to reach an all-time high of €8.85 billion.
The strongest performing categories were dairy (€2.6 billion), meat (€2.59 billion), prepared foods (€1.5 billion) and seafood (€420 million). As a result, the sector accounted for 25% of the rise in total export revenue. Overall, the industry is estimated to be worth €24 billion. Almost 50,000 people are directly employed in the food and drink sector with a further 60,000 employed indirectly in all regions of the country.The manufacture of food and drink products is Ireland's most important indigenous industry with Ireland competing
Almost 50,000 people are directly employed in the food and drink sector with a further 60,000 employed indirectly in all regions of the country.The manufacture of food and drink products is Ireland's most important indigenous industry with Ireland competing successfully in over 170 markets.
What are the current issues affecting this sector?
Government Labour Reports forecast a continued decline in the number of people employed in traditional agriculture careers such as farming, but the wider sector offers many new opportunities in the areas such as:
- Food Science
- Horse Breeding
- Environmental Officer/Management
- Horse Racing (Jockey)
- Agricultural Research
What changes are anticipated over the next 5 years
There are a number of interconnected issues of significance which will affect the agrifood sector- i.e.
- climate change and its effect on food production
- global population growth and rising income levels and their effect on global food security
- increases in international commodity and food prices
- the importance of biotechnology in increasing food production
As a significant food exporter, these changes offer particular advantages which the Irish food sector can capitalise on and in the medium to long term should improve the image of the sector as a producer of quality food and as an employer.
There are now also interactions between the food sector and high-tech sectors that would not have been thought possible five years ago, providing new opportunities for growth.
See Future Skills Needs of the Food and Drinks Sector 2017.
Do you have any statistics relevant to the sector?
- The industry is estimated to be worth €24 billion.
- Almost 50,000 people are directly employed in the food and drink sector
- A further 60,000 are employed indirectly in all regions of the country.
- The manufacture of food and drink products is Ireland's most important indigenous industry with Ireland competing successfully in over 170 markets.
Are there any areas in your sector currently experiencing skills shortages?
There are labour shortages reported in the traditionally labour intensive jobs of fruit picking, planting and harvesting. A large number of farms recruit workers for seasonal work.
There are also opportunities in the areas of food processing, marketing and fertiliser sales.