Fianna Fáil TD for Laois-Offaly Seán Fleming has highlighted Ireland’s over-reliance on prepared consumer foods (PCF) with Ireland’s imports in many categories far outweighing exports in the same category.

He explained, “Last year Ireland imported, 2,409,789 tonnes of these foods while we only exported 997,235 tonnes. The value of these imports was €3.78 billion while the value of these exports was €2.71 billion.

“Prepared Consumer Foods (PCF), are value-added food and beverage products, excluding alcohol beverages, which sell both domestically and internationally.

“It is surprising to see such stark figures in many categories. Ireland needs to decrease its over-reliance on such imports and increase our own domestic production in these areas in order to make our food supply more secure and sustainable.

“In 2019, Ireland imported over €433 million worth of fruit and vegetables while we exported only €47 million in the same year. €157 million in biscuits was imported while just €20 million in biscuits were exported. Imports of water, juices and soft drinks accounted for €405 million versus just €198 million in exports.

“The incoming Government must give import substitution high priority and encourage the Irish horticulture and agriculture sectors to produce more food here in Ireland so that consumers have increased choice and do not have to rely on as much imported foods.

“Ireland is undoubtedly a world leader in food production, but it will be a surprise to many people to know that we actually import more food in many categories than we export,” concluded Deputy Fleming.