Irish whiskey industry to gather in Bushmills Co. Antrim next week to discuss international trade and the impact of Brexit on the industry.
On World Whiskey Day (Saturday, 19 May), the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA) has outlined its ambitious plans to more than double worldwide sales of Irish whiskey by 2030. The Irish Whiskey Association is part of ABFI, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland.
The vision for Irish whiskey strategy set a target of doubling the global sales of Irish whiskey from 6 million nine-litre cases to 12 million by 2020 and to double them again to 24 million by 2030.
Head of the Irish Whiskey Association William Lavelle said: “With sales of nearly 10 million cases in 2017 we are on target to reach and exceed the 12 million cases target by 2020 and we are now setting our sight on reaching 24 million cases by 2030.”
Irish whiskey is the fastest-growing spirits category in the world. The CSO reports that the value of Irish whiskey grew by 14.3 percent last year.
Lavelle added: “We are an ambition industry are our ambitions are increasingly global. At present, half of all Irish whiskey is sold in just one market, the United States. Our goal is to target more growth in more markets. We want to expand from our current 135 markets to at least the 170 markets where Scotch whisky is sold. More critically, in the markets where we currently have a low sales base, we want to grow sales by double digits each year.
“Recently we increased sales across Europe and in emerging markets such as Canada, Mexico, and Africa. Going forward, Asia and the Far East is going to be a key focus for Irish whiskey export growth.
Next month the IWA will host a major industry event focusing on global market trends in the industry. International market research commissioned by the Association will also be unveiled. Lavelle said this event will “kick-start a detailed industry dialogue on our key market priorities for coming years, all of which is geared to ensuring we meet our ambitious 2030 growth targe.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND BREXIT
Ahead of the event next month, IWA representatives will gather at Bushmills Distillery, Co Antrim to discuss international trade, as well as the impact of Brexit on the sector. This will be the first industry meeting to take place north of the border.
Lavelle continued: “Both of these issues – Brexit and trade – go hand-in-hand.
“Brexit raises concerns for the Irish whiskey industry in terms of the uncertainty over potential disruption to cross-border supply chains and the threat of regulatory divergence in the treatment of our All-island geographical indication (GI)*. ABFI, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, has been addressing these issues as part of its extensive engagement with Government and the EU Commission on Brexit.
“Brexit also offers significant opportunities. Irish whiskey will be the EU’s largest whiskey category once Scotland leaves the EU and given our current growth trajectory we could, in a few years, overtake Cognac to become the EU’s largest spirit export.”
“The EU had been mightily-important in supporting global growth of Irish whiskey. The recent EU Free Trade Agreement with Canada (CETA) has helped to make Canada one of our fastest growing markets. Recently-concluded agreements with Japan, Singapore and Mexico and future prospective agreements with Australia, China, Thailand, South America and hopefully even India offer even further exciting growth opportunities. To date all of our industry has benefitted, north and south. We want to ensure that all Irish whiskey distilleries, north and south, will continue to have the best possible access to global markets.”
Also commenting, Colum Egan, Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, said:
“As Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association, it will be a great honour for me to welcome my colleagues from across the island of Ireland to Bushmills. Our industry is resurgent. It’s booming.
“We have grown from just two distilleries in the early 1980s to eighteen in 2017, and likely twenty three by the end of this year. Irish whiskey is the world’s fastest-growing spirit category and we are now targeting for further growth in markets worldwide.”
The delegation at Bushmills will also be addressed by Mr Ulrich Adams, recently appointed Director-General of spiritsEUROPE, the representative body for the EU spirits industry.
*Note for editors:
There are three All-Island geographic indications (GIs) for Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Irish Poitín. These GIs are recognised under EU law and are protected in EU global free trade agreements. This prevents the sale of counterfeit Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream Liqueur. All three GI categories have an approved Technical File which governs production practices and standards. Post-Brexit, the three Irish spirits GIs will be the only ones to span territory both in the EU and outside the EU. It is critical that the same level of legal recognition, application of the Technical File and enforcement continues both in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
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