US tariffs and Brexit stockpiling, along with restrictions on hospitality outlets globally had a negative impact on drinks exports, which fell by 19% to €1.3bn in 2020, Drinks Ireland has said.

The comments came as Bord Bia launched its Performance and Prospects report, with the representative body for drink manufactures and suppliers in Ireland highlighting significant impact on production and domestic sales during 2020.

Drinks Ireland also highlights that declines in exports do not reflect a decline in sales, as a significant volume of Irish spirits was in place in the US market at the start of 2020.

Rebound in 2021

Director of Drinks Ireland Patricia Callan has said that 2021 will continue to be challenging for the sector, as it seeks to recover from the impact of the pandemic and navigates the challenges of Brexit and US tariffs.

“Recovery is dependent on a number of factors and supports from Government, including the full sustained reopening of the hospitality sector, a rebound in international tourism for visitor centres and supports for Irish drinks exports.”

Driving recovery

In response to the Bord Bia report, Drinks Ireland has today released its industry outlook for 2021, stating that producers will be focused on driving recovery this year:

  • Sales in 2019 will be the “benchmark” for the drinks industry. Prior to COVID-19, the drinks industry was experiencing strong growth, which it will be seeking to regain.
  • Recovery in the domestic market will require the full hospitality sector to be reopened.
  • Regaining growth in export markets will be vital.
  • Alcohol consumption will continue to decline in Ireland. The sector anticipates that the long-term trend of consumption declining and consumers choosing quality over quantity.
  • A restart of international tourism will support visitor centres.
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