The report was launched today by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD.
International destinations accounted for 61% of our drinks exports, up from 57% in 2020, while the EU accounted for 24% of drinks exports, a share that’s down from 27% in 2020.
The UK was responsible for an unchanged 15% of drinks exports which rose by a fifth to an estimated €255 million, up 8% on pre-pandemic 2019 figures.
At €413 million, Irish drinks exports to the EU27 were up 11% on 2020’s figure but down 6% on the 2019 pre-pandemic figure.
2021’s increase reflected recovery in a number of key markets such as Germany (up 28%), Italy (up 47%) and Latvia (up 17%). However most of the Latvian drinks imports are destined for Russia.
In its annual report Bord Bia states that, “Some emerging markets in the EU27 also recorded strong increases such as Poland where exports increased by 60% to €32 million after a strong performance by Irish whiskey exports to that market (+72%). Other positive increases were seen in the Czech Republic (+33%), the Netherlands (+7%) and Russia (+65%). However, these growth rates need to be viewed against the backdrop of the unprecedented declines recorded in 2020”.
Bord Bia points out that recovery was most robust in Irish whiskey and cream liqueur exports, particularly to North America which accounts for 51% of drinks exports worth €825 million. This figure was €850 million in pre-pandemic 2019.
“The US itself accounts for 87% of all drinks exports to North America, with trade valued at €710 million in 2021, recovering by an estimated 27%,” Bord Bia points out.
The US is Irish whiskey’s largest customer, the destination for 55% of whiskey exports.
Global whiskey exports were worth €855 million last year, up 25% compared to 2020, as the growing trend of Premiumisation and the position of Irish whiskey in this segment led to the value of Irish whiskey exports increasing at a stronger pace than volumes.
“In Germany, Irish whiskey exports grew by 30% and the market continues to grow as a priority EU market for Irish whiskey suppliers,” reports Bord Bia.
Cream Liqueur exports
At €367 million, global Irish Cream Liqueur exports rose 19% with nearly 40% of these exports destined for the US while Gin recorded growth of 38% “albeit from a lower base”.
The report points out that, “Canada and Mexico have also seen strong growth rates for Irish cream liqueur exports, growing by 24% and 146% respectively”.
But not all drinks categories experienced the same levels of recovery. Beer exports were down by 3% overall to €246 million, being more exposed in the UK and EU to the closure of bars and nightclubs in many markets there having an impact on beer exports.
Beer exports to France, for example, were down 52%.
At the same time beer exports to the US were up 72%.
Thus beer exports to the EU27, which account for 29% of beer exports overall, recorded a second consecutive year of decline, falling by an estimated 34% according to Bord Bia.
Beer exports to the UK fell 9%, driven by a 24% decline in exports to NI.
Bord Bia expects a recovery in this sector during the year as the hospitality sector reopens.
Cider recovered sales by almost 50% during the year.
Online ordering became an area of focus in markets such as the US, where IWSR estimates that sales via e-commerce grew to over 60,000 nine-litre cases in 2021.
“This represents a 125% increase from 2019 levels,” states Bord Bia, “This channel is forecast to continue to grow strongly to 2025. Other key channels such as Global Travel Retail began to show the first signs of recovery, with the volume of spirits sales via this channel lifting by 37% in 2021. They are expected to increase by a further 85% in 2022. However, volumes are not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.”
The value of Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture exports overall increased by 4% to a record €13.5 billion in 2021, despite the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on trading.
By exporting about 90% of its food and drink production Ireland exported the equivalent of almost €37 million-worth of food and drink every day last year to customers in more than 180 countries worldwide.
In summing up the outlook and prospects for Irish Food and Drink Exports in 2022, Bord Bia Chief Executive Tara McCarthy said that the industry needed to be cognisant of a number of key trends for this year which were a combination of emerging issues and a longer-term shift in consumer behaviour and attitudes.
“Notwithstanding last year’s record performance, there are a number of challenges ahead for the Irish food and drink sector,” she stated, “These include increased supply chain and input costs which are affecting producers and processors and the ongoing impact of Brexit which has yet to be fully implemented. While the transition period ended on December 31, 2020, the UK has not yet started physical inspections of food and drink imports.”