Angola, Japan and South Korea among emerging export destinations for Irish drinks products

Monday, 20 January 2020

Ireland’s drinks industry continues to expand into new and emerging export markets like Angola, Japan and South Korea, according to a new analysis of Eurostat data and Bord Bia research by Drinks Ireland, the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland.

It’s a well-known fact that Irish drinks products are recognised and loved the world over, with exports going from strength to strength in recent years.

The quality, heritage and great taste associated with our drinks products means the relatively small island of Ireland punches way above its weight when it comes to drinks exports.

According to the latest Bord Bia research, the US was the largest market for Irish drinks exports in 2019, followed by the UK, France, Germany and Canada.

While these larger and more established destinations will continue to dominate in the coming years, trade challenges associated with Brexit and US tariffs mean Irish drinks producers will continue to look further afield to maintain growth.

Growth in disposable income sees taste for Irish whiskey grow in South Africa
Already, South Africa has emerged to become the seventh largest market for Irish whiskey in terms of volume. Exports were valued at €12.8 million in 2018.

According to Bord Bia, emerging consumers with disposable income are spending more on imported drinks in South Africa and Irish whiskey exporters are well placed to take advantage of this over the coming years.

In August, Drinks Ireland secured legal protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa, meaning that only Irish whiskey made on the island of Ireland, in accordance to certain standards, could be labelled and sold as such there.

Also, as the Irish gin supply base expands in response to global trends, double-digit growth was recorded in South Africa in 2018.

Elsewhere in Africa, exports of Irish whiskey to Kenya and Angola were valued at just under €1 million each in 2018, at €900,348 and €975,204 respectively.

Growth of the middle class driving Irish Cream Liqueur sales in Nigeria
Cream liqueur is experiencing renewed growth in Nigeria, and Irish Cream Liqueur, which has an established presence in Nigeria and has earned the trust of consumers, is taking advantage of this.

Exports were worth €2.2 million in 2018.

Tailored for local tastes, Bailey’s sold in Nigeria has vanilla from Madagascar and Cocoa from West Africa.

First Ireland Spirits, which has brands including O'Mara's Irish Country Cream and Feeny's Irish Cream Liqueur, exports to Nigeria.

The growth of the cream liqueur segment is being driven by Nigeria’s large population, urbanisation, economic growth and growth of the middle class.

Eastern Europe’s love for beer proves a winner for Irish brewers
Poland is one of Ireland's top ten EU markets for food and drink, and Irish drinks exports have grown significantly there in recent years, with further potential for growth identified in the premium and super premium categories, offering additional opportunities for Irish whiskey and premium beer.

Exports of Irish beer to Poland are strong, valued at €1.9 million in 2018.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, exports of beer to Austria were valued at €2.2 million in 2018. Austria has the second highest consumption of beer per capita worldwide.

Exports to Russia are on the up
Russia remains a major market for Irish spirits and we see from Bord Bia’s research that exports to Latvia, an important point of on-ward shipping to the Russian market, remained strong, valued at €48 million in 2019.

Irish beer and whiskey take on local brands in Japan
Bord Bia research found that Japan was the largest Asian market for Irish alcohol in 2019, with the value of exports rising by 9% to €10 million.

Despite the fact that Irish whiskey has to compete against Japanese whisky, exports were valued at €1.4 million in 2018, according to Eurostat data.

The signing of an EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement in 2018 means that Irish whiskey is legally protected in Japan.

Leading brands such as Tullamore Dew, Jameson, Bushmills and Teeling are spearheading the success of Irish whiskey in Japan.

Irish beer producers also have to compete against popular Japanese beer brands, but exports to Japan were worth €2.5 million in 2018.

Irish liqueur exports to Japan were worth €3.8 million in 2018. This was driven mostly by Intrepid Spirits, which sells Cocalero Clasico and Cocalero Negro in Japan. Despite heavy South American and Andes branding, both are made in Ireland.

Elsewhere, some Asian markets such as Taiwan and Thailand are showing significant promise, according to Bord Bia. Irish whiskey exports to these markets rose by 44% and 22% respectively in 2018, albeit from a low base.

Meanwhile, exports of Irish beer to South Korea were valued at €1.3 million in 2018.

Irish whiskey and cream liqueur set sights on Latin America following trade deal
In July 2019 a trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) was signed, which will significantly increase opportunities for drinks producers in these markets, reducing tariffs over four years.

In 2018, exports of Irish whiskey to Brazil were valued at €691,211, so there is scope for growth.

Elsewhere in Latin America, exports of Irish liqueurs were valued at €5.7 million to Mexico and €934,208 to Colombia in 2018.

Exports to the Middle East perform well despite alcohol restrictions
Although some Middle Eastern countries have strict regulations on the sale and consumption of alcohol, some are showing promising results with regards Irish drinks exports.

Exports of Irish whiskey to Israel were worth €1.24 million in 2018, while exports of Irish whiskey and cream liqueur to Turkey were worth €1 million and €2 million respectively.

Irish cider proving popular Down Under
Irish cider exports have remained relatively static in recent years, and producers have focused on the more established markets like the UK. Australia is a market of note, with exports valued at €1,404,772 in 2018.

With growth of the cider sector at home, there may be increasing opportunities in new and emerging export markets in 2020 and beyond.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland:

“With ongoing global trade uncertainties in the UK and the USA as a result of Brexit and tariffs, it’s promising to see that Irish drinks brands are diversifying into new and emerging markets.

“Consumers around the world are responding positively to the quality and heritage associated with these products, as well as their great taste.

In 2019, the value of Irish exports was valued of €1.45 billion, up 8% from 2018.

“Irish whiskey and cream liqueur in particular are well-positioned to continue to grow, as they are both protected by Geographic Indications, which means they must be made in Ireland and abide by certain standards.

“Ireland’s beer production is expected to continue on its current trajectory of moderate export growth, with the country’s heritage and provenance in the category allowing it to find a distinct space in a crowded market.

“Finally, gin will continue its repositioning as a strong niche export category with double digit export growth in 2020.”


Media queries: Colin Taylor, Q4PR, 0864671748