NI food processing turnover falls by £1.4m

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Factory line workers/pigs
Image caption,
Sales in some sectors are down, but the drop has been offset by growth in others

The turnover of Northern Ireland's food and drink processing sector marginally decreased in 2016.

It now stands at £4.423bn, a fall of £1.4m.

The biggest drops were in sales of beef and sheep and pig meat, down £29m and £12m respectively.

But they were offset by combined increases in the drinks, bakery and fruit and vegetables sectors of about £40m.

Image caption,
The fruit and vegetable sectors have seen growth

It is the second year in a row that there has been a drop in turnover, but it followed 15 years of continued growth.

The figures are in provisional estimates published by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).

The number of people employed full time in food processing has increased by 2.3% to 22,000 people.

Food and drink processing accounted for a quarter of the total manufacturing sales.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Great Britain continues to be the Northern Ireland food industry's biggest customer

The biggest market for Northern Ireland food continues to be Great Britain, which is worth about £2bn.

The domestic market is next with sales of more that £1bn, followed by the Republic of Ireland with sales worth £624m.