Rural Ireland’s drinks businesses grow

Pictured at the launch of The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Drinks Industry report are: Patricia Callan, member of DIGI and director of ABFI; Tony Foley, DCU economist; Kathryn D’Arcy, member of DIGI and director of Corporate Affairs at Heineken Ireland; Donall O’Keeffe, secretary of DIGI and CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association; and, Max Hayes, commercial director of Dublin Liberties Distillery.

A new report by Dublin City University (UCD) economist, Tony Foley, shows how high levels of innovation and entrepreneurship in all sectors of the Irish drinks industry are supporting and creating jobs – generating balanced regional development, with 90 per cent of breweries located outside Dublin.

The number of Irish breweries producing their own product has more than quadrupled since 2012, from 15 to 72, according to a new report published today by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI). This quadrupling has led to a total increase in microbrewery turnover from €8m in 2012 to €52m in 2016.

Brewers, distillers, cider producers, pubs, restaurants, hotels and off-licences are supporting and growing economic activity in Ireland—spread widely across the country.

Fourteen per cent of Ireland’s breweries are located in Cork, followed by 10 per cent in Dublin, and 7 per cent in each of the counties o Galway, Wicklow and Donegal. Every county in the Republic, bar Westmeath, has at least one brewery.

DIGI published its Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Drinks Industry report, authored by DCU economist Anthony Foley, to mark the launch of its annual Support Your Local campaign, an initiative designed to demonstrate of the importance of drinks and hospitality industry businesses to the economic, cultural and social fabric of Ireland.

The Irish drinks industry is Ireland’s fastest-growing manufacturing industry in terms of number of enterprises. Whereas the number of enterprises in the overall manufacturing sector has increased by less than a percent since 2008, the number of drinks industry enterprises has grown by 105 percent. In comparison, the number of enterprises in the second fastest-growing manufacturing industry, food, has grown by 28 per cent in the same period.

Many breweries and distilleries are developing visitor centre facilities, increasing product awareness among local and international consumers, and opening additional revenue streams. In a survey of 50 microbreweries, eight already have their own visitor centre facility in place. A further 36 have plans to develop one. The Irish whiskey industry, meanwhile, envisages Ireland becoming the global leader in whiskey tourism by 2030, overtaking Scotland.