Newly released Bord Bia figures show that the value of drinks exports increased by 19% last year, up to €1.62bn.

The Exports Performance and Prospects 2021 – 2022 report shows that Irish whiskey exports recovered strongly last year, up 25%, and were valued at €855m. The growing trend of premiumisation and the position of Irish whiskey in this segment led to the value of Irish whiskey exports increasing at a stronger pace than volumes.

Irish cream liqueur exports also demonstrated significant recovery, up 19% in 2021, valued at €367m. Also in the spirits category, gin recorded growth of 38%, albeit from a lower base.

Irish beer exports were more exposed to the closure of hospitality venues in key markets and were down marginally by 3% to €246m.

Elsewhere, Irish cider exports recorded a recovery of 50%.

The report shows that North America was the biggest market for Irish drinks exports, representing 51% of total. Exports to the UK increased by a fifth to an estimated €255 million, representing 8% growth over 2019.

While overall exports to the EU27 declined by about 6% since 2019, there was recovery in a range of key European markets.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland, said: “The new figures illustrate the resilience of the Irish drinks industry, which demonstrated strong recovery last year after the difficulties of 2020, with overall exports returning to 2019 levels. The prospects for the drinks sector are broadly positive for 2022, with recovery expected to continue in the spirits sector, despite challenges in relation to inflation across the supply chain. A recovery in beer exports is also anticipated.

“Irish drinks producers continue to demonstrate remarkable innovation in response to trends in export markets. The report highlights the move towards premiumisation, as consumers drink ‘less but better’, and Ireland’s quality drinks products fit very well into this niche. There has also been an increase in e-commerce delivery in key markets, as well as a growth in at home cocktail culture.”

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