ABFI annual report shows Ireland’s strengths in drinks industry

Patricia Callan of the ABFI has taken aim at the controversial Alcohol Bill
Patricia Callan of the ABFI

The ABFI has released an end-of-year analysis for the sector, highlighting key areas of growth in 2017 as well as future trends and prospects.

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5 January 2018 | 0

A new analysis by the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) says that the drinks industry is a great Irish success story, with innovation at its core. The analysis found that in 2017 the industry continued to be a major contributor to economic activity across the country. The drinks and hospitality industry supports 204,000 jobs, with a wage bill of €4.3bn. Many of these jobs are in rural communities, as the industry is present in every county across the country.  It supports 12,000 farm families, with €1bn spent on grains and dairy every year.

The report also found that the industry is an export powerhouse, delivering growth for Ireland’s food and drinks sector. The industry exports to 130 markets worldwide, with total exports worth €1.1bn.

The report’s key findings:

  • Beer remains Ireland’s favourite alcoholic beverage with 46% of the total alcohol market share
  • Irish beer exports were valued at over €280m in 2016, up 23% in two years,
  • 40% of beer produced in Ireland was exported
  • Preliminary figures for 2017 indicate that the overall beer consumption trend is decreasing marginally by 1.8 per cent
  • Ireland is the 12th largest beer producer in the EU and the 8th biggest exporter of beer
  • There is an increasing amount of choice for beer consumers and this is set to grow in 2018
  • The craft beer revolution is continuing, there are now around 100 microbreweries operating in Ireland

In the area of spirits, the report said:

  • Preliminary figures indicate that the value of all spirits exports from the Irish Republic in the first three quarters of 2017 were up 13.3% to €646m
  • Growth in the spirits sector is being led by Irish whiskey, currently the fastest growing spirits category in the world. The value of whiskey exports from the republic were up 14% to €412m during Q1 – Q3 2017. The value of Irish whiskey exports to the US and Canada increased 15.7% and 21.5% respectively in this period
  • A key trend in the Irish market has been the remarkable surge in the popularity of gin. Gin remains the fastest growing spirits category among Irish consumers while exports of Irish Gin more than trebled during 2017

Patricia Callan, Director of the ABFI said the Irish drinks industry is an integral part of the country’s overall food and drinks sector. “However,” she said, “there are a number of issues the industry faces as we head into 2018.

“Firstly, we have major concerns in relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. Drinks manufacturers support the objectives of the legislation – to tackle harmful and underage drinking in Ireland. However, at present, the Bill contains a number of measures that won’t work and will harm an important indigenous industry.

“Specifically, the labelling and advertising proposals in the Alcohol Bill are a major concern for drinks manufacturers as they plan for 2018. These proposals will negatively impact investment in Ireland by global players and will make it impossible for small brewers and distillers to establish their brands and export their products. In essence, the Alcohol Bill in its current form will deter innovation as companies, both large and small, will be constrained from bringing new products to the Irish market.”

Other issues highlighted by the report include Brexit, regulatory divergence and excise rates in the EU.

“We hope to work with the Government on these issues in 2018, to ensure growth is sustained,” Callan said.

 

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