Irish beverage exports rose by 8% last year to €1.5bn, according to the latest Bord Bia export performance report.

Overall, the value of Irish food, drink and horticulture exports increased by 13% in 2017, to reach €12.6bn for the first time.

Speaking at the launch of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2017-2018 report, where the figures were released, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., said “Last year marked the 8th successive year of growth for total Irish agri-food exports, to reach a record of €13.5bn. Industry, in line with my Department’s market prioritisation strategy, is continuing to diversify, with exports to international markets reaching €4bn for the first time. Trade with the UK, which remains our most valuable market, has grown in overall terms, despite the difficulty presented by Brexit and a weaker sterling”.

According to the report, Irish beverage exports continue to benefit from the surge in popularity for Irish whiskey in global markets, which recorded almost 20% annual growth as a category to some €600m. Irish cream liqueurs also had a buoyant year, rising 10% overall to in excess of €300m. This follows a ‘lost decade’ in which growth stagnated in the category.

In 2017 the top five markets for drinks exports were the United States, UK, Canada, Germany and France. The Japanese market was the best performing of the Asian countries with sales rising by 30%, up to €9m.

Aside from beverages, last year’s export performance was driven by a surge in dairy exports to over €4bn (up 19%), now one third of all food and drink exports, as well as continued buoyant sales of Irish beef, up 5% to nearly €2.5bn.

The report says that export growth in 2018 will be driven by the ongoing growth trajectory of Irish whiskey, the popularity of premium brands and product innovation.

Pictured: Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Michael Creed TD speaking at the launch of Bord Bia’s Export Performance and Prospects 2017-2018 report.

By Mark Murphy,