The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland has welcomed news from Bord Bia that Irish beverage exports were up by 1% in 2014, with alcoholic drinks accounting for over 80% of beverage exports. Growth is being fuelled by the Irish whiskey and craft beer sector; a boon to small artisan producers as well as big names.
Irish whiskey is currently the fastest growing spirit in the world, according to Bord Bia's Performance and Prospects 2014-2015 report, with 7 million nine litre cases exported – projected to reach 25 million by 2030. While there was slowdown in the US, the markets in both Russia and South Africa saw strong growth in 2014.
In the last few years, Ireland has seen strong growth in whiskey manufacturing. There are currently nine operating distilleries in the Republic of Ireland, with eight more set to open by the end of 2015.
Irish beer accounted for 19% of the beverage exports. While iconic Irish beer Guinness saw a slight drop in 2014, craft beers did well and are set to continue. In 2013 there were less than 10 microbreweries nationwide, jumping to over 50 by the end of 2014. 40% of these are currently exporting, with predominantly domestic brands like Metalman scoring well on international beer review websites.
The research shows that currently France is not only one of the top markets for Irish alcohol exporters, but it is also the fastest growing. Strong emerging markets include Asia and the Middle East.
Commenting on the report, Peter O'Brien Chairman of DIGI said, "Our drinks exports are clearly a national success story. Bord Bia's report confirms this position matching growth with a hugely positive outlook for 2015," and added that the government should support the drinks industry, "so it can continue to build on current success, identify new markets for products and find innovative product solutions, which will in turn help foster further economic recovery in Ireland."