Ireland 11th-largest alcohol exporter

With the value of Irish alcohol drinks exports at over €1 billion, a new report shows that the impact of beverage exports on the domestic economy far outweighs other products manufactured in Ireland for international markets, due to the high level of locally-sourced inputs.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has published a new report, Beverage Exports 2000-2011, by Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School, which shows that there’s great potential in the Irish beverage export market.

Our export economy is primarily driven by multinational brands in electronics and pharmaceuticals. Local indigenous brands are less involved in this.
However the beverage industry’s exports prove the exception where our top drinks brands have mass market appeal.
Liqueurs account for one-third of all Irish beverage exports while beer accounts for one-quarter and whiskey the remainder.

Thanks to locally-sourced inputs every €1-worth exported by the beverage industry here is worth substantially more to the economy than the €1-worth of product exported in the pharmaceutical, chemical, computer, medical, optical or electronic industries.

In fact every €100 of Irish beverages exported has the same impact on the economy as €625-worth of chemicals/pharmaceutical or €294 of computer, electronic and optical or €185 of medical devices exports.

And as we export more drink than we import, this also has a positive effect on our balance of payments.

Some 60 per cent of our drinks exports are to the EU while 40 per cent are to the ‘rest of the world’. While the UK and US continue to be the main markets for Irish beverages overseas, there’s major potential for additional sales to China, India and other major emerging markets.

At the launch of the report it’s author Anthony Foley, explained, “Ireland continues to over-perform in terms of beverage exports. In terms of international position Ireland is ranked 11th in order of size of alcohol exports compared to 33rd for overall merchandise exports. The Irish share of world alcohol exports is 2.4 per cent compared with 0.8 per cent for overall merchandise exports”.
He added that the future remains positive given the wider success of Irish food and drink products in key global markets.

DIGI Chairman Kieran Tobin pointed out that Irish beverage exports have great potential as we’ve lots of capacity and raw materials, we have globally-recognised brands and in the case of IDL Pernod Ricard, it has just made a €200 million investment in the expansion of its warehousing facilities in Midleton.

“This report details the extent to which the Irish drinks industry is responsible for some of Ireland’s most celebrated and internationally-recognised brands which are available in over 100 markets overseas,” he said, “For a small country such as Ireland, to be in the top 12 global drinks exporters is something of which we should be extremely proud.
“Our drinks exports are therefore a major national success story, with a current value in excess of €1 billion. While there was a modest slowdown in export performance in 2011, according to initial CSO data, following a strong 11 per cent growth in 2010, current estimates for 2012 and beyond are very encouraging.
“It is important to remember that the success of Irish drinks exports is founded on a solid domestic market that provides over 60,000 jobs in the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol. The drinks industry is also a major contributor to tourism – a further strong earner of overseas revenue – through its pubs, its brands and visitor centres. We should therefore seek to support this important sector of the national economy to the greatest extent possible to assist our much-needed export-led economic recovery.”

He concluded that premium brands are likely to do extremely well in the next 10 years.

“The 100 million-case Indian spirits market is the real prize. If we could even get just one or two per cent of that, it would be a significant achievement.”

The potential over the next decade is for a significant growth in beverage exports.
In this regard, DIGI said that given that the Government has identified exports as central to our economic recovery, the industry will work closely with it to build on current successes, identify new markets for its products and remove any barriers to trade that exist in some of these emerging economies.

With domestic demand likely to be weak for the next few years, the country must look to exporting, concluded Tony Foley at the launch. But this requires a substantial and close relationship between the beverage exporters and Government.

The report was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Shane McEntee TD at the Old Jameson Distillery, Smithfield.

A full copy of the report is available at

Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free