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Spirits Europe: trade diversification ‘important’

Trade body Spirits Europe has stressed the importance of trade diversification in light of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Spirits Europe
Trade diversification is ‘very important’ for the spirits industry, Spirits Europe said

Speaking to The Spirits Business last month (July), Ulrich Adam, director general of Spirits Europe, said the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a wake-up call for governments to establish more free trade agreements worldwide.

He said: “We must diversify. My message to the European Commission is try to start new free trade agreements, and adopt those that are negotiated quickly.

“We need diversification because now we’ve seen how important markets like Russia or Ukraine can take a big hit very quickly.

“Trade diversification is very important, and will bring big opportunities.”

Until the Russian war with Ukraine broke out, Russia had been Irish whiskey’s second-biggest export market. Plus, Ukraine had been one of the category’s fastest-growing markets in Europe, according to the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA).

In 2021, Russia and Ukraine accounted for more than 17% of all Irish whiskey sales in Europe, and almost 7% of all of its sales worldwide.

For Cognac producers, shipments to both countries have “all but completely stopped”, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) said.

However, this drop has been offset somewhat by increased exports to the Nordics and the UK, plus growing demand in France.

The BNIC said: “It is complicated to forecast the next 12 months because of the uncertainty about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia was 3% of our market before the conflict.”

Last week, Belfast Distillery invested £22.3 million (US$27m) to open a distillery and visitor centre in Belfast.

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