Bord Bia report highlights importance of drinks sector to exports, says Drinks Ireland
19 January 2024
Irish drink exports were valued at €1.8 billion in 2023, representing an 8% decline year-on-year, according to Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects report 2023/24. Irish whiskey, which represents almost half of all exports, saw sales decline by 14% to €875 million. Irish cream liqueur sales were down 9% to €370 million. Beer exports increased by 11% to €330 million, with the value of Irish cider exports also up 11% to €80 million.
One of the major factors for Irish drink exports in 2023 was a decline in exports to the key market of North America. Total drink exports to North America were down by approximately 26% overall, due to a build-up of stock in the market in 2022 to mitigate supply and trading challenges once the market fully opened, post-pandemic.
Despite these declines, Drinks Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, said the report shows that Irish drinks exports are “a major contributor to local economic activity and job creation throughout the country. Alcohol drinks manufacturers are operating in every county on the island and our brands across spirits, beer and cider are enjoyed by consumers the world over, with Irish drinks exports reaching 119 markets in 2023.”
The group also pointed out that export value remained 12% ahead of 2021 levels and it expects improved market conditions as we progress through 2024. “Irish drinks manufacturers have a strong ambition for further growth with significant investments ongoing in capacity, innovation, and market development,” Drinks Ireland said.
This ambition for growth and delivery by the sector needs to be matched by a policy framework that allows the sector to realise its potential. Drinks Ireland, in its recent policy priorities publication, Pride of Place, highlights a number of key areas for attention including
increased investment through state agencies such as Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and other bodies to support the export growth ambition of the sector.
“Alcohol consumption in Ireland has fallen by 30% in the last twenty years and the importance of exports for our sector cannot be overstated,” said Drinks Ireland director Cormac Healy. “We believe that adopting practical and balanced policies for both the home and export markets will safeguard this critical Irish industry into the future.”