Irish Exporters Association and Investec Launch 250 Top Exporters Report PDF Print E-mail

Wednesday, 27th July 2011

Multinational Companies Account for Bulk of Irish Exports - Irish-owned Companies Showing Well in Agri-food Sector

The Irish Exporters Association today (27th July) launched its annual report of the Top 250 Exporting Companies in Ireland, supported by Investec, one of Ireland’s leading specialist banking and asset managers. The report for 2011 graphically illustrates the significant role foreign direct investment (FDI) is playing in the Irish economy and shows that multinational companies which have invested heavily in Ireland to service the EU27 and other international markets now account for over 75% of total Irish exports.

According to Mr John Whelan, Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), the importance of the investment of multinational companies in the Irish economy is further underlined by the fact that FDI annual investment averaged €9.7 billion in the decade up to 2009 and in 2009 / 2010 grew and averaged €11.5 billion across these last two years, showing strong solidarity with Ireland as a respected base for investment and exporting. Mr Whelan noted that the Report gives an insight into the makeup and direction of the Irish export industry.

“The top 20 companies accounting for 44% of total exports, is not unlike many other countries in terms of heavy dependence on a relatively small number of major multinational corporations ” said Mr Whelan. He added that there is, significantly, a strong representation of Irish-owned agri-food companies in the top 20 accounting for 16% of these global export companies. Within the top 20 companies, seven are from the ICT sector reflecting the growing computer services exports; five are from the pharmaceutical/medical devices sector and five from the agri-food sector.

Returning to the topic of FDI and its impact on export sales from Ireland Mr Whelan said that stocks of FDI fell in four of the six years from 2004 to 2009, largely due to out flows of capital from foreign affiliates in Ireland. More recent data show an increase in FDI stocks in 2009 and 2010 which is partly due to re-investment by foreign affiliates in Ireland and the growing success of attracting knowledge intensive investment. Mr Whelan said that the lowering of the cost base since the advent of the economic crisis in Ireland as well as changes in the business taxation system that took place in 2010 have enhanced Ireland’s attractiveness as an investment location especially for knowledge intensive industry.

Three Sectors Driving the Export Recovery
There are three major industrial sectors driving Irish exports – chemical/pharmaceutical, information communication technology (ICT) and agri-food/drink. The report of the Top 250 Exporters examines each of these sectors and shows its overall importance in the Irish export effort.

The Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sector: Chemical, pharmaceutical and medical devices exporters continue to be among the most successful and resilient in the Irish economy. Together they make up the Life Sciences sector of international trade. In Ireland, the Life Sciences sector is the bed rock of our high value added export industry. In 2010 chemicals accounted for €22.8 billion or 25% of manufacturing output, pharmaceuticals €30.0 billion or 33% of total, and medical devices €4.3 billion or 4.8% of total. Growth in this sector has driven Ireland’s positive export performance during the recession. Mr Whelan noted that the IEA has been very active supporting the competitiveness of the sector through its Good Distribution Practice (GDP) training, logistics certification and code of practice, as well as advanced international customs compliance support.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Sector: The ICT sector covers both hardware and services companies. The sector, although reducing in overall importance, still contributes to a very significant part of the Irish export landscape. Out of all sectors, the ICT sector is disproportionately represented in the top 10 exporters with half of the top ten from that sector. In line with the multinational makeup of the export sector, the top exporting companies in this sector are non-native and most are working in computer software and services rather than hardware manufacturing. The ICT manufacturing sector in Ireland now accounts for 8.5% of manufacturing exports. The sector has experienced a fall in output for the past decade and 2010 was no exception with exports falling by 36% to €7.6 billion. However, the sector has seen substantive growth conversion of its facilities to support services exports of ICT software and business process technology and this change-over strategy looks set to continue in the coming years.

The Food and Drink Sector: This sector, the traditional backbone of Irish exports, continues to thrive. In contrast to the chemical, pharmaceutical and ICT sectors, Irish-owned companies are more dominant in the food and drink sector than foreign multinationals. Last year, this sector saw a return to substantive growth for the first time since 2006, with exports rising by 8% over the previous year. The sector accounts for approximately half of all exports from indigenous-owned firms. Because of the highly labour intensive nature of the sector it remains a vital part of the Irish economy. Prospects for the sector remain bright with exports expected to grow by 40% over the next decade driven by global demand and strategic advantages arising from the end of the EU milk quota restrictions. Mr Whelan noted that the IEA Food & Drink Export Ireland Division has been proactive with a range of funded programmes to assist with brand building, market entry strategy and international market intelligence. As a share of the exports in the top 250 firms, food and drink represents 14% of total exports.

The following list of the top 15 exporters in the food/drink sector clearly illustrates the high proportion of Irish-owned firms:
1. Kerry Group
2. Aryzta
3. The Irish Dairy Board Co-Op
4. Glanbia
5. Kellogg European Trading
6. Dawn Meats Exports
7. Origin Enterprises
8. Irish Food Processors
9. Diageo
10. Atlantic Industries (Coca Cola)
11. Pepsi-Cola Manufacturing
12. Kepak Group
13. R & A Bailey & Co
14. Green Isle Foods
15. Greencore Group 

Mr Whelan said that ranking The TOP 250 Export Companies was based on the most recent available turnover figures provided by Business Pro for the Irish Exporters Association. He added that the IEA believes that the report on the Top 250 Irish Exporting Companies will provide an insight into the makeup and direction of the Irish export industry. He said that the IEA was grateful for the sponsorship of the report which was provided by Investec.

Speaking at today’s launch, Philip Ahearne, Head of Corporate Foreign Exchange Sales, Investec Ireland, said, “The Irish Exporters Association is the true voice of the Irish export industry, and Investec are delighted to be working with the Irish Exporters Association to sponsor the publication of the Top 250 Exporting Companies in Ireland. Foreign exchange management and understanding of the risks involved has never been more vital for our export sector.

According to a recent survey by the Irish Exporters Association, the value of Ireland’s Euro membership remains key, as indicated by 90% of Irish exporters voicing continued support for Ireland’s membership of the Euro currency. “With continuing currency fluctuations and market volatility, Investec, as a banking group with operations across the globe, works closely with Irish based and indigenous companies to understand established and emerging market areas. For example, the Irish food and drinks sector, which has seen 14% growth in the first six months of 2011.

With just over 2/3’s of Irish food exports heading for outside the EU, 44% to the UK and 22% to international markets, the majority of which are dollar denominated, the strength of export currencies is a key concern for any exporter. Investec work closely with these and other export led companies to ensure they are taking the right opportunities, by providing a tailored approach for our clients that are as individual and unique as their businesses.” . 

For further information: Mr John Whelan Chief Executive Mobile: 087 927 1243

Investec Ireland Robert Marshall, Corporate Reputations, 01 661-8915, 087-6478-542, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About Investec: The Investec Group is a leading international, specialist-banking group, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa. The group was founded in 1974 and currently has approximately 5,900 employees with offices in 12 countries. The Irish operation, based in Harcourt Street, Dublin employs a team of over 115 specialists for its domestic and international client base. The Dublin office serves customers internationally as well as in Ireland, combining the skills and expertise of local staff with the considerable resources of our international network. The group is quoted on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges with a market capitalisation of circa GBP4bln as of 8th September 2010. Investec’s five principal areas of business worldwide are Investment Banking, Capital Markets, Private Client Activities, Property Activities and Asset Management. For more information, visit