Robust growth for Irish drinks exports in 2017

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

  • Drinks manufacturers say new Bord Bia report confirms drinks industry is export powerhouse
  • Drinks industry exports to 130 markets
  • Irish whiskey exports up 20% in 2017
  • Irish cream liqueur exports up 10%

Irish beverage exports rose by 8 per cent last year to €1.5 billion, due to continued demand for premium spirit and liqueur products, according to new figures released today. Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland, has welcomed the new figures from Bord Bia’s latest export performance report.

According to the report, Irish beverage exports continue to benefit from the surge in popularity for Irish whiskey in global markets, which recorded almost 20 percent annual growth as a category to some €600m. Irish cream liqueurs also had a buoyant year, rising 10 percent overall to in excess of €300m. This follows a ‘lost decade’ in which growth stagnated in the category.

In 2017 the top 5 markets for drinks exports were the United States, UK, Canada, Germany and France. The Japanese market was the best performing of the Asian countries with sales rising by 30 percent to €9m.

The report says that export growth in 2018 will be driven by the ongoing growth trajectory of Irish whiskey, the popularity of premium brands and product innovation.

Patricia Callan, Director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland said:

“Ireland’s drinks industry is continuing to increase its exports as a result of innovation, more choice, high quality and a focus on building strong brands that resonate with consumers in export markets. We are on the right track to continue this growth. A few years ago, there were just four whiskey distilleries and there are now eighteen, with a further sixteen in planning. Additionally, there are now over 100 craft beer brands in the country.

“However, there are challenges ahead. The Bord Bia report identifies Brexit as a threat to Irish food and drinks exports. Given that Ireland’s drinks industry operates on an ‘all-island’ basis, a resolution to the issue of a trade border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland is our priority.

“We are also concerned about the unintended negative consequences from the advertising and labelling measures being proposed in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. As we see from this report, smaller and boutique producers are key to drinks export growth, and they need freedom to innovatively market and advertise their products in their home market prior to export. Equally if as now proposed following the Seanad debates, Irish whiskey, gin, beer and liqueurs must carry a cancer label, when our competitors in the rest of the world do not, this will be hugely damaging to our international reputation and our ability to export.

“We want to work with the Government in 2018 to address these issues and to ensure Irish drinks exports continue apace.”