Irish whiskey exports up by 20% to €600m

11th January, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

Exports of Irish whiskey increased by 20% to €600 million (US$716m) in 2017 and are on track to double by 2020, according to a recent report by Bord Bia.

Irish whiskey exports are up by 20% to €600m, according to a new report

In the Export Performance and Prospects 2017-2018 report, overall Irish beverage exports rose by 8% to almost €1.5bn in 2017, bolstered by “continued demand” for premium spirits and liqueurs across key international markets.

Cream liqueurs also witnessed a “buoyant year”, rising 10% overall to €300m with “strong” performances in Asia, North America and key European markets.

In terms of markets, the UK and the EU experienced “modest uplifts”, with steady growth in Germany, France, Netherlands and Spain.

North America exports rose to some €650m, driven by the growing popularity of Irish whiskey and cream liqueurs. The US market for Irish whiskey rose by 16% to over €240m while the EU as a whole grew by 14% to 111m.

The report also stated that the demand for Irish whiskey is set to continue, with production forecast to double between 2015 and 2020, and double again in the following decade.

The number of licensed distilleries in Ireland doubled between 2014 and 2016 to 18, while Irish whiskey broke the 100-million bottle barrier in 2016.

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.

“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.”

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