The event provided a platform for exporters and potential customers to build fruitful relationships and was the first introduction to this valuable market for 11 of these companies.
The purpose of the event was to increase awareness among UK retailers, distributors, food & drink writers and bloggers of the growing Irish drinks industry.
Thus nearly 100 attendees learned about the individual brands and characteristics of the products from each producer while Dominic Roskrow, Fortnum and Mason’s Drink Writer of the Year 2015 and drinks specialist in cocktail menu creation and spirit brand training Charlie McCarthy from ‘All about the Cocktail’ shared their knowledge and insights into the Irish drinks industry.
“Exports of Irish drinks to the UK were valued at €365 million in 2015, accounting for around 29% of total exports for the sector,” pointed out the Irish Ambassador to the UK Dan Mulhall adding, “Premium spirits benefit from the demand for quality products in international markets. There’s a growing appreciation of fine foods and spirits and a desire for products with genuine heritage. It’s no surprise then that Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing product in the global spirits category, recording fourfold growth over the last decade with an ambition to double exports by 2020. Similarly, our craft brewing sector currently has over 50 operational microbreweries with 40% of them currently exporting. This number is set to exceed 100 by 2020. I am delighted to support our high quality drinks’ producers in extending their presence in the British market, to the benefit of jobs and prosperity in Ireland.”
Six Irish Whiskey companies participated in the Spirit of Sharing event – Glendalough Distillery, Hyde Distillery, Jameson, Teeling Whiskey, Tullamore Dew and Walsh Whiskey – along with five craft beer companies – Carlow Brewing, Clever Man, Galway Hooker, The White Hag Brewery and Wicklow Wolf. In addition, four Irish Cream Liqueur producers participated – Coole Swan, Kerrygold Cream Liqueur, Na Cuana and Quintessential Brands. In addition, five Irish gin companies and one Poitin company took part – Ballyvalone Spirits, Blackwater Distillery, Glendalough Distillery, Highbank Orchards, St Patricks Distillery and Ban Poitin.
“Market and consumer insight drives everything we do in Bord Bia” explained Bord Bia’s UK Market Manager Michelle Butler, “and this event provides invaluable material for us as we grow the drinks industry to become the most-recognised source of premium craft drinks in the world.”
The Irish Whiskey Association, the Irish Brewers Association and the Irish Spirits Association have also welcomed the news that Irish whiskey, beer and spirits will be featured in the St Patrick’s Day hamper that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will present to US President Barack Obama. This is the first time in many years that quality products from the Irish drinks industry will be featured in the hamper.
Beverage exports in Ireland are worth €1.26bn and the US is a key export market.
“Irish whiskey has led the export contribution of the Irish drinks industry in recent years and now makes up over 34% of total beverages exports from Ireland,” stated Miriam Mooney, Head of the Irish Whiskey and the Irish Sprits Association.
She pointed out that the US continues to be the largest export market for Irish whiskey, accounting for 45% of whiskey exports. “Irish whiskey exports are worth €410 million,” she stated, adding that the Irish spirits industry exports 95% of its products to over 80 international markets with Irish cream liqueur exports being worth €295 million.
The beer sector in Ireland is burgeoning with exports worth over €265 million, pointed out Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association, who added that there were now 63 production microbreweries in operation while established players expanded and invested.
“The US is a key market for our beer products,” he stated, “In Ireland 43% of beer produced is exported and beer accounts for 19% of all beverage exports.”