Exports from Ireland’s drinks industry continued to grow in 2018, driven in large part by demand for premium products such as Irish whiskey, according to Bord Bia’s newly published "Export Performance & Prospects 2018-2019" report.
The report found that Irish alcohol drinks exports were worth €1.25 billion in 2018, with the US remaining the largest market for Irish beverage exports, followed by the UK, Canada, Germany and France.
According to the report, growth in the sector has been driven by continued double-digit demand for Irish whiskey in many markets, with Irish whiskey exports now being valued at €620 million and accounting for 42% of total beverage exports.
The report anticipates that global consumption levels of Irish whiskey will be revealed to have exceeded 10 million cases by the end of 2018 for the first time. Notably, the US market for Irish whiskey grew by more than 10% in 2018.
Cream Liqueur And Beer
Meanwhile, the report states that the Irish cream liqueur category also enjoyed a strong performance with growth of 9% in value, achieving sales of over 7.9 million cases in 2018, up from 7.2 million in 2017.
While the value of beer exports fell marginally, the volume increased by 9%. According to the report, this was a result of a positive performance on the European continent and reflects a continuing trend from 2017.
Elsewhere, the report notes that Irish gin is emerging as a category for the international consumer, with the category reportedly set to be worth more than €5 million in exports in 2018.
As the Irish gin supply base expands in response to global trends, double-digit growth was recorded in the UK, South Africa, Italy and Germany, and notable growth of 8% is reflected in the consumption of Irish gin in Spain.
"An Export Powerhouse"
Patricia Callan, director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), asserted, "[This] report proves that Ireland’s drinks industry is an export powerhouse, going from strength to strength.
"Looking forward, the outlook for 2019 remains positive, driven by the popularity of premium brands and the growth of Irish whiskey in key international markets like the US.
"The report notes that Irish whiskey must not be overly-reliant on the US and producers continue to look at emerging markets. For example, 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.
Callan continued, "In terms of challenges, the report notes that the domestic market will face regulatory challenges in 2019, as a result of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act.
"As 24% of all beverage exports went to the UK in 2018, Brexit is another significant challenge for producers. As Bord Bia says, the whole island of Ireland is integrated in production for many manufacturers.
"The industry must also continue innovating to respond to a changing consumer landscape. The report identifies the growing trend towards health and well-being. Already there is an increasing number of low and non-alcoholic beers on the market as a result of this and these are expected to grow in popularity in 2019."
© 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.