The value of Irish food and drink exports in 2013 reached 10 billion euros (13.6 billion U.S. dollars) for the first time, up 9 percent from the previous year, according to official figures on Wednesday.
The figures, released by Bord Bia, the Irish food board, represents an increase of 40 percent in the last four years with revenues almost 3 billion euros higher than in 2009.
Export values for dairy product and ingredients exceeded 3 billion euros for the first time and strong performances for meat and livestock (3.3 billion euros) and prepared foods (1.65 billion euros) all contributed to the positive outcome.
Bord Bia said Britain remains the largest export destination for Irish food and drink with 42 percent of exports worth an estimated 4.1 billion euros reaching that market in 2013.
Meanwhile, exports of food and drink to other EU markets increased by 11 percent in 2013, reaching 3.2 billion euros with the key markets of Germany, France and the Netherlands all recording double digit growth.
Strong exports to Asia, and to a lesser extent Russia, contributed positively toward an increase of 6 percent in the value of trade to international markets, which exceeded 2.6 billion euros in the period.
Exports to China grew by over 40 percent, with values trebling over the last three years to reach 390 million euros in 2013.
Bord Bia said China's is now Ireland's sixth largest market overall, driven in particular by strong dairy and pork exports, adding that seafood and beverage exports are also growing solidly albeit from a lower base, while eventual access to the beef market will act to further broaden the industry's presence in the world's fastest growing market.
The inclusion of hide exports from the beef industry would bring the market's value overall for the sector to 432 million euros, according to Bord Bia.