The resurgence in sales of Irish cream liqueur continued in 2018, with preliminary stats suggesting an 8% growth in export figures for the year.
Globally, 7.5m cases (90m bottles) of Irish cream liqueur were sold in 2017, up 2.9% from 2016. Export growth has largely been driven by the US market, where 1.9 million cases were sold, followed by the UK, Canada, Germany and Spain.
In the Irish market, sales are also on the up. 100,000 cases (1.2m bottles) of Irish cream liqueur were sold here in 2017, up 5.6% on 2016. Interim retail statistics for 2018 suggest continued sustained growth of approximately 7% in the Irish off-trade.
Irish cream liqueur is one of the EU’s top five spirits export categories and is protected by a geographical indication (GI), in the same way Champagne and Parma ham are also protected. Irish cream liqueur must be made on the island of Ireland, contain Irish dairy cream and Irish whiskey, in accordance with an approved technical file, which dictates how it must be produced.
Patricia Callan, Director of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), believes the resurgence is the result of innovation in the category, with producers experimenting with new flavours like salted caramel and white chocolate. Other producers have also repositioned cream liqueur as a dessert ingredient, or a component to cocktails and coffees.
Patricia Callan said: “The Irish cream liqueur sector makes an important contribution to the Irish economy, purchasing 316m litres of fresh cream from Irish farmers every year, sourced from 46,000 dairy cows.
“As we look ahead to 2019, we anticipate that growth in the category will continue.”