The food and drinks sector recorded its sixth consecutive year of export growth in 2015 with a 3% increase to over €10.8 billion, according to Bord Bia’s 2015-16 Export Performance & Prospects report, launched this morning.
The 10% rise in beverage exports, along with beef (6%) and seafood (4%) were among the strongest food and drink categories in terms of export growth.
The global beverages market showed further growth in 2015 as the market benefited from a continued rise in demand for premium alcoholic products. This mirrors the increase in disposable income of consumers in many developing regions leading to a demand for luxury products and the association of premium label products with quality and taste.
Beer and cream liqueurs recorded “some growth” while cider exports “eased”.
Favourable exchange rates also helped boost exports.
According to the Bord Bia review, exports of non-alcoholic beverages were boosted by strong sales of juices which offset reduced exports of mineral waters.
Ireland now exports drinks to 130 markets worldwide with exports of whiskey worth €410 million in 2015, up 18% and cream liqueur exports worth €295 million.
The top five export markets for Irish beverages are the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and Latvia.
Beverage exports to the UK remained relatively steady at €365 million accounting for around 29% of the total.
According to the review, sales of whiskey, juices and cream liqueurs to the UK mitigated slower exports of cider and mineral water.
Exports to other European markets showed a small rise to around €250 million. Whiskey, beer, water and juices drove this increase but there was a decline in sales of cream liqueurs and cider to these markets.
The Netherlands, Spain and Eastern European markets all showed good growth. This was due largely to higher whiskey and beer exports while some decline was evident in shipments to France and Germany.
With more than half of total beverage exports now going to international markets, shipments increased strongly, largely due to higher whiskey exports which were helped by the weakening €uro versus the dollar, with a rise in whiskey exports to the US.
In addition, the huge increase in the number of middle-class consumers in Asia has enhanced demand for premium food and drinks and Irish food and beverages have been one of the beneficiaries of this as shipments of Irish beverage exports to international markets jumped by around 21% to €645 million.
An anticipated further rise in whiskey sales, the ongoing development of emerging markets and the ever-increasing range of craft products such as beers, whiskey and cream liqueurs has led to a broadly positive outlook for Irish beverage exports.
In summing up, Bord Bia Chief Executive Aidan Cotter stressed that ‘premium position’ remains key to our export success.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Mr Simon Coveney TD explained at the launch of the report that there had been a 51% increase in the value of Irish food and drink exports since 2009 at a time when global commodity prices for food have been falling.
He also re-iterated that Ireland was now well-placed to have itself regarded as the highest quality producer of food and drink on the planet.
At the review launch, Aidan Cotter also launched Bord Bia’s new Statement of Strategy 2016-2018 entitled Making a World of Difference.