ABFI Welcomes Inclusion Of Distilled Spirits In Future Growth Loan Scheme
Ireland’s drinks industry faces unique risks associated with Brexit, according to Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), which has welcomed the launch of a Future Growth Loan Scheme that aims to support strategic long-term investment for companies in a post-Brexit environment, allowing for innovation and diversification.
The ABFI has welcomed the inclusion of distilled spirits in the Future Growth Loan Scheme. These producers, which were previously excluded, have been added following significant engagement by the ABFI with the government and the European Investment Bank. The launch took place on Wednesday March 27 at the recently-opened Dublin Liberties Distillery.
Distilled spirits producers now join beer and cider producers as being eligible for the scheme, which over a five-year period will make a fund of up to €300 million available.
SMEs, including producers in the drinks industry, can apply for loan eligibility from April 17, with at least 40% available to the agri-food sector.
ABFI director Patricia Callan commented, "We welcome the launch of this scheme, which will help businesses in the Irish drinks industry by ensuring access to credit to allow investment in business development, expansion and diversification strategies to weather the disruption and uncertainty caused by Brexit."
"A Period Of Exceptional Growth And Innovation"
Callon continued, "Ireland’s drinks industry is experiencing a period of exceptional growth and innovation, with small breweries and distilleries located across the island of Ireland. The latest CSO figures show that overall alcohol drinks exports increased by 8% last year from €1.25 billion in 2017 to €1.35 billion in 2018.
"With regard to spirits, this is a sector that continues to go from strength to strength. The value of Irish whiskey exports increased by 13% last year from €578.78 million in 2017 to €654 million in 2018. Meanwhile, the value of gin exports increased by a whopping 211.2% from €1.9 million in 2017 to €6.04 million in 2018.
“Despite this, there is much uncertainty ahead.”
Risks Associated With Brexit
Speaking about the risks associated with Brexit, Callan added, "The Irish drinks industry operates on an all-island basis with seamless cross-border supply chains. In total, the Irish drinks industry carries-out over 23,000 truck movements across the Irish border every year, over 5,000 of which are alcohol tanker-movements.
"The aggregate value of trade in drinks products between the UK and Ireland is €364 million, one third of which (€121 million) is the aggregate value of north-south trade. The UK remains the dominant market for Irish beer (71% of exports) and cider (85% of exports).
"Additionally, many Irish drinks companies are located in Northern Ireland, including a number of Irish whiskey, Irish cream liqueur and Irish poitín producers. These products are all protected by a 'geographic indication', which is protection given to products that have a specific geographical origin (the island of Ireland in this case) and are produced with certain production standards. It’s vital that this cross-border protection continues post Brexit.
"While we are clear in our desire to avoid a hard border and for seamless alignment between the EU and the UK, things do remain uncertain. As such, the Future Growth Loan Scheme will be important protection for drinks companies in the aftermath of Brexit. We welcome in particular the positive response of the government and the European Investment Bank to ensure equality for spirit producers and their inclusion in the scheme, following the successful campaign by the ABFI."
© 2019 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.