Sales of pink gin soared in 2018, according to the annual Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) industry overview.
Alcohol exports also increased across the board in 2018, with the value of gin exports alone up 213% to €4.2m in the first nine months of the year. Irish whiskey continues to be the fastest growing spirits category in the world.
Irish consumers purchased over half a million bottles of pink gin during 2018. There are now over 20 gin producers and over 50 gin brands in Ireland, with 12 new brands introduced last year.
Another success story has been the resurgence of Irish cream liqueur, which experienced an export growth rate of 8% year on year. Interim retail figures suggest a domestic growth of 7% in the off-trade for the category.
Beer remains Ireland's favourite alcoholic drink, with a 45% market share taken by the sector in 2017. 2018 saw the introduction of lighter lager beers, typically coming in at around 4%. It is predicted that low and non alcoholic beers will become increasingly popular in 2019. Separately, cider consumption grew by 7.7% in 2017, continuing its upward trajectory and benefitting from the revolution in craft cider.
Ireland also remains a major exporter of beer. Beer exports, by volume, rose marginally by 0.2% in 2017 and were valued at €273 million making Ireland the 8th largest beer exporter in Europe.
The market share for wine increased marginally from 27.6% in 2016 to 27.7% in 2017, with white wine remaining Ireland's most popular style, taking a 50% market share. Red wine has a 45% market share, while between 2016 and 2017, rosé consumption increased from 3% to 5%.
Despite positive indicators from across the industry, the ABFI has highlighted significant potential risk factors coming into the new year, including the threat of Brexit. Additionally, the prospect of additional trade wars and tariffs are of concern, in particular the potential for tariff hikes in the US.
Patricia Callan, Director of ABFI, said: “This year will be a challenging one for the sector with a number of homegrown and international risks ahead. We remain committed to supporting Ireland’s economy and will take on these various challenges and uncertainties head on.”