Wednesday 18 September 2019

Irish drinks sector 'could double exports to over €2bn'

Paul O'Donoghue

The Irish drinks industry has the potential to double exports to more than €2bn over the next 15 years and create 13,000 new jobs, according to a new report.

The study, carried out by agri-food economist Ciaran Fitzgerald and commissioned by the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, found that many of these jobs could be based in the rural economy.

According to the study, Irish drinks industry exports total about €1bn and employs 92,000 people.

Mr Fitzgerald found that there was a "disconnect" between the costs associated with alcohol in Ireland and the Government's long-term plan for the sector which were detrailed in the Foodwise 2025 strategic plan.

The 10-year strategy for the agri-food sector would see the drinks industry grow exports by at least €700m, creating an additional 7,210 additional jobs.

Mr Fitzgerald's study found that meeting the drinks industry ambition of growing the Irish whiskey sector to 24 million cases would see Irish drink exports exceeding €2.2bn.

He said this would generate additional direct and indirect employment of 13,390 jobs in the Irish economy.

However, he claimed that this potential expansion is being compromised by industry regulation, which he says is undermining competitiveness.

The report notes that excise and VAT taxes on alcohol are the second highest in the EU, leading to prices that are consistently 60pc higher than the EU average.

Mr Fitzgerald said: "There is a disconnect between the targeting of the sector for growth and expansion as per the Government's recent Foodwise 2025 strategic plan, and the Government's policies on price, taxation and regulatory costs.

"This inconsistency will ultimately act as a barrier to local and inward investment."

Irish Independent

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