Drinks Industry tells Oireachtas Committee of €1 billion export contribution
Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation this afternoon, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) told Committee members that Irish drinks exports are one of the country's major international success stories through their €1 billion value and presence in over 100 markets overseas.
DIGI members were addressing the Committee on their recent Beverage Exports 2000-2011 report by Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School.
The Chairman of DIGI, Kieran Tobin, told the Committee that 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.
He added that while the United Kingdom and North America continue to be the main markets for Irish beverages overseas, that there is major potential for additional sales to China, India and other major emerging markets. 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 them 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.
Mr Tobin commented, 'DIGI welcomes the opportunity to address Oireachtas members on this important report. It 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 established, new, and emerging markets all around the world.
'Our drinks exports are therefore a major national success story, with a current value in excess of €1 billion. The challenge for the industry is to continue to build on this success and constantly identify new target markets for our products.'
The author of the report, Anthony Foley, added, '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 value of these exports increased each year from 2000 to 2003 when it reached €1 billion in value for the first time. This peaked in 2007 when over €1.3 billion worth of products were exported, and while there have been declines in recent years due to the international recession, the future remains positive given the wider success of Irish food and drink products in key global markets.'
Mr Tobin concluded, 'It is important to remember that the success of Irish drinks exports is founded on a solid domestic market. Like many sectors of the domestic economy at home the drinks industry is currently facing very significant challenges. For example, our most recent mid-year drinks market figures show that sales volumes in the key on-trade sector have declined by 34% since 2007. Excise clearances for 2012 to date show an overall market decline of 3.2%.
'Despite this, the drinks industry remains a key sector of the economy particularly in regard to tourism and hospitality that the Government has identified as key to recovery through initiatives such as The Gathering and last year's reduction in the lower rate of VAT. For that reason we wish to work closely with Government to support our sector at home and abroad, by boosting exports internationally and stimulating local spending in the wider hospitality sector.'