Tuesday 21 October 2014

Raising a glass to the drink sector's massive economic impact

Sarah Stack

Published 29/04/2014 | 02:30

More than 60,000 people are directly employed in Ireland's drinks industry
Stout
More than 60,000 people are directly employed in Ireland's drinks industry

IRELAND'S drinks industry is a much bigger part of the economy than many people realise.

More than 60,000 people are directly employed in the sector, which buys €1.1bn worth of produce and service each year – including 220,000 tonnes of barley.

Economist Tony Foley of the DCU Business School says the economic impact of the drinks industry is substantial.

"There are 8,298 public houses and other bars and almost 1,700 full off-licences," he said at the launch of a report yesterday. "In addition to the large brewers and distillers there are 25 craft or micro-breweries and 15 new distilleries are being developed.

"Nationally, the drinks industry directly provides 63,000 full- or part-time jobs with a wages bill of €885m and purchases over €1bn of Irish-produced agricultural, other materials and services inputs," he added.

"These purchases support about 11,600 jobs. The direct and indirect employment total of 74,600 supports an additional 17,500 jobs. Overall, the drinks industry supports over 92,000 jobs."

But the industry wants the Government and the public to get out and support their local pub. Mr Foley's report, entitled 'Drinks Related Employment in Dail Constituencies', was presented at the launch of Support Your Local by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland which wants TDs to get supermarkets to stop selling cheap alcohol.

The powerful lobby group also wants a statutory ban on price-based advertising and codes to regulate the merchandising of alcohol.

Campaign manager Bart Storan said Support Your Local involves supporting your local farmer, local distillery, local pub, restaurant, hotel or independent off-licence, and supporting your local community.

The study calculates that the industry directly and indirectly pays a wage bill of more than €2bn annually.

Marie Byrne, of Dublin Whiskey Company, said the success of Irish whiskey was one that we could all be proud of and needed support.

"If we are to ensure that companies such as our craft distillery, namely the Dublin Whiskey Company – are to thrive into the future, we need the support of Government, key stakeholders and the wider industry," she said.

The overall value of barley purchases is said to be €26.4m, but this price fluctuates from season to season, the report found.

Agricultural inputs in the report only include milk and barley and do not include apples, wheat and other agricultural inputs due to data available.

Eugene Ryan, a barley farmer in Stradbally, Co Laois, said his family had been involved in barley farming for many years.

"Without the iconic Irish brands such as Guinness being sold worldwide, an already difficult situation would be made impossible," he said.

". . . I look forward to supplying grain to a vibrant drinks industry in this country for many years to come."

Irish Independent

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