Drinks Industry Supports 12,000 Irish Farm Families

By Publications Checkout
Drinks Industry Supports 12,000 Irish Farm Families

Farming, distilling and executive representatives from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture today. The group outlined the massive contribution that the drinks industry makes to farmers across the island every year including providing demand for 50,000 apples, purchasing 200,000 tonnes of barley and utilising 300 million litres of milk. Such activities support 12,000 farm families.

The group urged for a reversal of last year’s penal excise increase. Focusing on the potential for growth in the industry, such as the booming global demand for Irish whiskey, the group warned that the current level of excise tax put future growth at risk, impacting on jobs, tourism and hard-pressed Irish consumers.

Willie Masterson, a farmer from Bunclody, Co. Wexford said: “There were over 35,000 tonnes of malting barley sold to the Drinks Industry by farmers in County Wexford last year and 500 tonnes of that came from our farm. I was delighted to hear of the surge in global demand for Irish whiskey, which is set to double exports by 2020 and double those exports again by 2030. The increase in the global demand will mean a fourfold increase in demand for the ingredients that go into producing whiskey, like the malting barley that comes from our farm. This would provide much needed security for farms like ours.”

Marie Byrne, an entrepreneur who is setting up the Dublin Whiskey Company distillery added: “Irish whiskey is on its way back, with 15 new distilleries being developed across the country, including mine in the Liberties. The growth in this sector is of obvious relevance to this committee given that malting barley is the central ingredient. To reach its full potential the industry needs a holistic approach that supports small companies like mine in the period before we start producing. We need a robust home market before we can scale to export the product. At the moment government policy is simply not allowing this to be a realistic option.”

Peter O’Brien, Chairman of DIGI and Diageo’s European corporate relations director commented: “Excise is a tax that we simply cannot afford. It is a tax on jobs, tourism and the hard pressed Irish consumer. The drinks industry is on the cusp of a period of growth and drinks related tourism is booming. The right policy choices by government can ensure that this growth potential is realised over the coming years.”

A recent Eurostat report found that Irish alcohol prices are still the highest in the EU, a massive 78 per cent more than the EU average.