Irish drinks exports punching way above their weight

Being a relatively small island, Ireland punches way above its weight when it comes to drinks exports points out Drinks Ireland, the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers here as Ireland’s drinks industry continues to expand into new and emerging export markets like Angola, Japan and South Korea.
Trade challenges associated with Brexit and US tariffs mean that Irish drinks producers will continue to look further afield to maintain growth. 

Trade challenges associated with Brexit and US tariffs mean that Irish drinks producers will continue to look further afield to maintain growth.

According to recent analysis of Eurostat data and Bord Bia research by Drinks Ireland, trade challenges associated with Brexit and US tariffs mean that Irish drinks producers will continue to look further afield to maintain growth.


Taste for Irish whiskey grows in South Africa

Already, South Africa has become the seventh-largest market for Irish whiskey in terms of volume with exports valued at €12.8 million in 2018.

According to Bord Bia, emerging consumers with disposable income are spending more on imported drinks in South Africa and Irish whiskey exporters are well-placed to take advantage of this over the coming years.

Last August, Drinks Ireland secured legal protection for Irish whiskey in South Africa, meaning that only Irish whiskey made on the island of Ireland in accordance with certain standards can be labelled and sold as such there.

Irish gin is also on the up in SA where double-digit growth was recorded in 2018.


Growth of middle class drives Irish Cream Liqueur sales in Nigeria

Cream liqueur is experiencing renewed growth in Nigeria and Irish Cream Liqueur, which has an established presence in Nigeria and has earned the trust of consumers, is taking advantage of this.

Exports were worth €2.2 million in 2018.

Tailored for local tastes Bailey’s sold in Nigeria uses Vanilla from Madagascar and Cocoa from West Africa.


Eastern Europe’s beer love proves winner for Irish brewers 

Exports of Irish beer to Poland are strong, valued at €1.9 million in 2018.

Poland is one of Ireland’s top 10 EU markets for food and drink with Irish drinks exports having grown significantly there in recent years. Further potential for growth has been identified in the Premium and Super Premium categories, offering additional opportunities for Irish whiskey and Premium beer.

Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, exports of beer to Austria were valued at €2.2 million in 2018. Austria has the second highest per capita consumption of beer worldwide.


Exports to Russia on the up

Russia remains a major market for Irish spirits and Bord Bia’s research finds that exports to Latvia – an important point of onward shipping to the Russian market – remain strong, valued at €48 million in 2019.


Irish beer and whiskey take on local brands in Japan

Japan was the largest Asian market for Irish alcohol in 2019, with the value of exports rising by 9% to €10 million, finds Bord Bia.

Despite the fact that Irish whiskey has to compete against Japanese whisky, exports were valued at €1.4 million in 2018 according to Eurostat data and the signing of an EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement in 2018 means that Irish whiskey is also legally protected in Japan.

Leading brands such as Tullamore Dew, Jameson, Bushmills and Teeling are spearheading the success of Irish whiskey there.

Irish beer producers also have to compete against popular Japanese brands but beer exports to Japan were worth €2.5 million in 2018 and Irish liqueur exports to Japan were worth €3.8 million. This was driven mostly by Intrepid Spirits, which sells Cocalero Clasico and Cocalero Negro in Japan. Despite heavy South American and Andes branding, both are made in Ireland.

Elsewhere some Asian markets such as Taiwan and Thailand are showing significant promise, according to Bord Bia which points out that exports of Irish beer to South Korea were valued at €1.3 million in 2018.


Irish whiskey and cream liqueur set sights on Latin America

In July 2019 a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) was signed which will significantly increase opportunities for drinks producers in these markets, reducing tariffs over four years.

In Latin America, exports of Irish liqueurs were valued at €5.7 million to Mexico and €934,208 to Colombia in 2018.


Exports to Middle East perform well despite restrictions

Although some Middle Eastern countries have strict regulations on the sale and consumption of alcohol, Irish exporters are seeing promising results in regard to Irish drinks there.

Exports of Irish whiskey and cream liqueur to Turkey were worth €1 million and €2 million respectively while exports of Irish whiskey to Israel were worth €1.24 million in 2018.


Irish cider proves popular Down Under

Irish cider exports have remained relatively static in recent years and producers have focused on the more established markets like the UK. But Australia is a market of note, with exports valued at €1.4 million in 2018.

With growth of the cider sector at home, there may be increasing opportunities in new and emerging export markets in 2020 and beyond.

“With ongoing global trade uncertainties in the UK and the USA as a result of Brexit and tariffs, it’s promising to see that Irish drinks brands are diversifying into new and emerging markets,” commented Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “Consumers around the world are responding positively to the quality and heritage associated with these products as well as their great taste.

“Irish whiskey and cream liqueur in particular are well-positioned to continue to grow as they’re both protected by Geographic Indications.

“Ireland’s beer production is expected to continue on its current trajectory of moderate export growth, with the country’s heritage and provenance in the category allowing it to find a distinct space in a crowded market.

“Finally, gin will continue its repositioning as a strong niche export category with double-digit export growth in 2020.”



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