Food and drink

Northern Ireland has a proud heritage of food and farming.

Our industry thrives upon the provenance, quality and reputation of the food and drink we produce.

The food and drink industry is made up of well-known multinational businesses located across Northern Ireland, as well as a thriving small business sector with some highly innovative businesses.

Invest NI has a dedicated Food & Tourism Division, which delivers support to around 440 companies across the Food & Drink, Print & Packaging and Tourism sectors.

Facts and Figures

Food & Drink Industry:

  • In 2012 the food and drink processing industry generated sales of £4.2bn, a 4.2% increase on 2011.
  • Almost 20,000 people are directly employed full-time in the industry (2011).


Total sales outside Northern Ireland amounted to £2.8bn (2011), accounting for 69% of the industry’s sales. The main external markets serviced are Great Britain (40%) and the Republic of Ireland (16%).

The industry is the largest single contributor to Northern Ireland’s total manufacturing sales (accounting for 26%), manufacturing external sales (accounting for 23%), and manufacturing export sales (accounting for 24%).

Food Strategy

The agri-food industry is a priority in Northern Ireland’s Programme for Government, Economic Strategy and in Invest NI’s Corporate Plan.

In recognition of the importance of the industry to Northern Ireland the DETI and DARD Ministers, in 2011, agreed to appoint a Board to develop a longer term vision for the industry.

The Agri-Food Strategy Board was appointed in May 2012, comprising an independent Chair from industry, eight industry members representing both the primary and processing sides of the industry, and four senior public servants from DETI, Invest NI and DARD.

During its first year the Board developed a strategy for growing the industry. The Going for Growth strategy was launched at the Balmoral Show in May 2013.

Invest NI will play its part on the implementation of key elements of this strategy, in partnership with the industry and other Government Departments, to help create the agri-food industry of the future.

Print and Packaging

The Print & Packaging team ensures the delivery of the full range of Invest NI products to a customer base of 65 active companies. Our customers provide products and services to a customer base that in turn service key multiples and publishing houses in both the UK and Export markets.


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