Irish spirit exports exceed €1 billion for first time

3rd October, 2019 by Owen Bellwood

The value of spirits exports from the Republic of Ireland increased by 10.2% in 2018 to surpass €1 billion (US$1.1bn) for the first time.

Irish-whiskey-masters

Irish spirit exports surpassed €1 billion for the first time in 2018

According to the annual Irish Spirits Market Report, published by Drinks Ireland | Spirits, the value of Irish spirit exports increased from €916 million (US$1bn) in 2017 to more than €1bn (US$1.1bn) in 2018.

Aoife Clarke, chair of Drinks Ireland | Spirits and senior director of public affairs, international, Beam Suntory, said: “This is the third industry and market report issued by Drinks Ireland | Spirits and we are delighted that it illustrates the continued strength of the Irish spirits sector. Ireland has a dynamic domestic spirits market and Irish spirits exports continue to grow as this report demonstrates.

“Proof, if it is needed, is found in the fact that 2018 was [the] first year that spirits exports were worth more than €1 billion to the Republic of Ireland’s economy. Consumers at home and abroad now have more choice than ever when it comes to Irish spirits.”

The report found that the spirits sector made a “significant contribution to the economy”, providing €372.2m (US$407m) in net excise receipts to the government in 2018.

The latest Irish Spirits Market Report also found that sales in the home market rose by 6.6% from 2.25m nine-litre cases in 2017 to 2.4m cases in 2018.

Irish whiskey is the second most popular spirit in Ireland, with a 25.1% share of the market. Sales increased by 5.4% between 2017 and 2018. Gin sales were up by 31.8% during the same period and maintained its position as the fastest-growing spirit in the domestic market.

According to the report, vodka remains Ireland’s best-selling spirit, accounting for 33.7% of all spirits sales – an increase of 4.8% between 2017 and 2018.

‘Clouds on the horizon’

Despite positive results for Irish spirits in 2018, Clarke warned that changing trade relationships between Ireland, the UK and the US could impact the sector in the coming years.

Clarke said: “However, there are clouds on the horizon. The current number one and number two export destinations for Ireland’s drinks products are the United States (by a significant distance) and the United Kingdom. Both markets will be seriously challenged in years to come because of the re-emergence of barriers to trade and uncertainty around future relationships.

“There are no winners in a trade war, just losers, particularly among consumers. But our sector is resilient and with the continued support of consumers and the Irish Government will continue to innovate, grow and lead.”

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