Whiskey exports boom but industry criticises new law
The value of global exports of Irish whiskey shot up 19.9pc to €314m in the first seven months of the year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.
Exports to the US were up 22.2pc to €189m and that country now accounts for 60pc of overseas sales for the industry. The value of exports to the rest of the EU rose 13.5pc to €92m, while Canadian exports were up 33pc to €8.5m.
This "phenomenal export growth cements Irish whiskey's position as the world's fastest-growing spirit category", said William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association.
The export growth of the product is being driven by both international investment in the Irish whiskey industry and by the innovation of new brands for the global market, he said.
Innovation was being fuelled in turn by increased competition, he added.
In just four years, Ireland has gone from four whiskey distilleries to 18, with 16 more in either planning or development.
But it is not all good news for the industry. According to Lavelle, the Government's Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will damage competition and deter international investment in the Irish whiskey industry.
"Competition and investment are underpinning this export growth," said Lavelle. "We have a Bill that will damage that and ultimately damage our export prospects."
"Significant constraints on advertising in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will seriously impact on the capacity of new-entrants to engage with consumers and promote their new products, compared with established brands," he said.
Smaller whiskey producers use print and outdoor advertising but also promotions in shops, events and festivals.
"All of that will be severely constrained by this bill, so smaller producers will not be able to promote their product," he said.
Lavelle said the new Bill would send out "an excessively negative message" in relation to government support for what should be a booming export industry, adding: "That type of message has the potential to deter international investors."
Sunday Indo Business