It finds that overall exports of food and drink products has fallen by €101m or 5%.

Most of this decline stems from a reduction of €223m, or 35%, in exports to Great Britain.

The CSO noted that while exports to seven of Ireland’s ten largest export markets for food and drink actually went up over the period, the declines in exports to Great Britain were greater.

Great Britain is still Ireland’s biggest food and drink export market but its share of those exports has fallen from 33% in 2018 to 23% today.

Exports to Northern Ireland increased by €63m, or 67%, over the same period.

Food and drink imports fell by €224m or 18% over the same two year period. The CSO said this is “almost entirely explained” by a reduction of €335m (64%) in imports from Great Britain.

In 2018, Great Britain accounted for 41% of imported food and drink. Today that percentage has fallen to 18%.

Imports of food and drink from Northern Ireland increased by €76m (75%) over the same period.

The CSO noted that Covid-19 may also be a factor in the trading patterns reported, adding that monthly trade figures are more volatile than annual figures.

It is also the case that stockpiling occurred in the last few months of 2020 in advance of Brexit which may have dampened trade in January.

“As more data becomes available later in the year, it will become clearer as to whether this is an initial Brexit shock, or if the Irish food and drink value chain is truly moving away from its dependence on Great Britain,” senior statistician with the CSO Michael Connolly said

The report is part of the CSO’s Frontier Series which uses new methods of data collection and analysis.