Bord Bia’s €1M spirits campaign takes centre stage with African launch

Irish spirits are exported to over 130 countries worldwide with whiskey being the predominant export to Nigeria

Irish drink exports to Nigeria in 2022 amounted to €9 million (Photo by Moussa Idrissi via Pexels)

Bord Bia has launched its Spirit of Ireland drinks campaign in West Africa as part of the Irish government’s trade mission to Nigeria and Senegal.

In the last four years Bord Bia has invested €1 million in the Spirit of Ireland which is a global educational programme aimed at customer-facing staff selling Irish spirits in off-licences and bars. It was first launched internationally by Bord Bia in 2022 in the US and has since featured in Ireland, the UK, Germany, France and Canada. 

Irish spirits are now exported to over 130 countries worldwide. Whiskey is the predominant Irish export to Nigeria, accounting for 80% of spirits exported.

As part of the government-led trade mission to Nigeria and Senegal, Bord Bia hosted 15 Irish spirits companies in Lagos, Nigeria, for the Spirit of Ireland launch with a view to connecting them to local distributors. 

In 2020 Bord Bia developed a Drinks Market Entry guide to help Irish businesses understand the Nigerian business landscape and its regulatory requirements. In 2021, Bord Bia hosted its first Meet the Maker event, introducing Irish drinks to the Nigerian drinks trade and national media. The same year, Nigeria became the fastest growing market for Irish whiskey. To further cement the growth of Irish spirits in Nigeria, in 2022 Bord Bia launched a mixologist contest, The Irish Mixers Club, with a focus on building the reputation of Irish spirits and brands.

Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, T.D, said: “Given the renaissance Irish spirits is having globally and its growth trajectory in West Africa, launching Spirit of Ireland in Nigeria was the next obvious choice. The programme has been unveiled in seven global markets to date and today’s launch demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to grow the Irish spirits category in the Nigerian market.”

Jim O’Toole, chief executive officer, Bord Bia, said: “Nigeria is a key export market for Irish drinks valued at €9 million. Exports of Irish spirits to Nigeria have grown by 200% in the last five years so this programme is being launched at a time when Ireland is front of mind for its whiskey, gin and cream liqueur, which are now positioned as premium offerings worldwide.

“Nigeria, with a population of 213 million people, is one of the fastest growing markets for Irish spirits. Our market intelligence tells us that the main driver of growth will be the urban, young population, 45% of whom are now living in cities, who have increased purchasing power driven by better education and improved employment options. This provides an excellent opportunity for Irish spirits companies to target a growing middle class consumer base that are actively seeking and engaging with premium brands.”

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