1.2 million employed in European spirits industry

Contributing 5% towards the total, Ireland ranks sixth overall in terms of spirits production turnover in the EU, the UK, Norway and Switzerland according to 'The economic and ecological footprint of the spirits sector in the EU, the UK, Norway and Switzerland', a new report commissioned by spiritsEUROPE.

On-trade consumption of spirits accounts for 41% of total spirits volume consumption here.

On-trade consumption of spirits accounts for 41% of total spirits volume consumption here.

 This EU+ report shines a fresh light on the true value of the spirits sector in all the areas of finance and employment that it influences.

Whisk(e)y represents the biggest spirits beverage category in Europe in both value and volume, followed by brandy, vodka, flavoured & national spirits, gin and rum.

Indeed, ‘whisky’ accounted for nearly a third of the EU+ region’s spirits turnover in 2019.

In Ireland, on-trade consumption of spirits accounts for 41% of total spirits volume consumption here.

Adult per capita spend on spirits in 2019 here was of the order of €240 and that on whiskey consumption is put at €80, putting Ireland top of the whiskey consumption table by value for – primarily due to taxation. Ireland exported whiskey worth €800 million in 2019.

Annual per capita adult consumption of vodka here was put at around €70.

Also, according to the report, almost half of Irish distilleries now offer a visitor experience, with numbers increasing by more than 50% between 2015 and 2019 when they topped one million for the first time at 1,020,000.


EU+ countries

Together, the EU, the UK, Norway and Switzerland’s spirits sectors support around 1.2 million jobs, according to the new economic footprint study. This represents about 0.5 % of the overall employment in the abovenamed area and almost approaches the size of the entire workforce of Lithuania.

For every job created in the spirits production sector 11 jobs are created downstream in hospitality, two in retail and six in indirect and induced from spirits production, notes the spiritsEUROPE report

Prepared by the Institute of Advanced Studies in Vienna the report examines the considerable positive economic impact springing from the production and consumption of spirits across Europe.

It analyses the direct employment created and value-added in distilleries, the sector’s sizeable tax contributions and its beneficial indirect spillover effects on agriculture, hospitality and tourism (see summary of key findings).

The sector’s overall production turnover was estimated at €26.5 billion in 2019, a 13% increase on 2015. Five countries represent more than three-quarters of the EU+’s entire spirits production: the UK is the largest producer, followed by France, Germany, Italy and Poland. But Ireland now ranks sixth.

The report estimates that spirits-related contributions in taxes and duties amounted to about €46.8 billion in 2019, more than a quarter of the annual EU budget. Around half of this was generated from VAT and excise duty imposed on spirits beverages sold in these countries. The other half came from income, profit and other taxes on general economic activity along the value chain.

Furthermore, the report also presents an in-depth analysis of the sector’s considerable downstream value for hospitality and tourism.

The overall Gross Value Added from the production and consumption of spirits in the EU+ countries was estimated at €60 billion in 2019. This was about 0.4 % of the total GVA in the EU+ and would be more than twice the overall GVA of Latvia.

“The report demonstrates the significant and manifold contributions the spirits sector makes to Europe’s economy, particularly in the many rural areas where most of spirits’ production is located,” stated spiritsEUROPE’s new President Christian Porta, “Unfortunately, the Covid-19 crisis has had a massive negative impact on the numbers presented in this report, given the far-reaching restrictions in the hospitality sector, the dramatic drops in spirits tourism and declining sales, for instance, in the travel retail segment in airports.

“What Europe’s distillers and our value chain partners in hospitality and tourism now need is structural support and a favourable policy environment to become once again engines for jobs and growth during the recovery”.

spiritsEUROPE represents the interests of the spirits sector in 30 national associations as well as of the 10 leading multinational companies.



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