A new report published today by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has found that the number of Irish breweries producing their own product has more than quadrupled since 2012, from 15 to 72. This quadrupling has led to a total increase in microbrewery turnover from €8 million in 2012 to €52 million in 2016.
The report shows that 14% of Ireland’s breweries are located in Cork, followed by 10% in Dublin, and 7% in each of the counties of 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.
According to the report, the Irish drinks sector is experiencing growth across the beer, cider and spirit categories. In 2013, there were just four working whiskey distilleries in Ireland. By 2017 there were 18, and there are plans for another 16.
Ireland’s gin sector, too, is attracting worldwide interest and plans to treble its exports to 400,000 9-litre cases by 2022. The number of licences granted for cider production increased from three in 2009 to 18 in 2017.
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%. In comparison, the number of enterprises in the second fastest-growing manufacturing industry, food, has grown by 28% in the same period.
Secretary of DIGI and CEO of the Licenced Vintners Association, Donall O’Keeffe said, "The drinks and hospitality industry is one of Ireland’s bedrock industries. In rural Ireland in particular, where less developed infrastructure inhibits the creation of high-tech jobs, the drinks industry has provided a way for smaller communities to support economic activity, innovation and entrepreneurship."
He added, "If the drinks industry is to flourish into the future, it needs as few barriers to trade as possible. Right now, our own excise tax is a barrier. Compared to other EU states, Ireland’s is the second highest overall: we have the highest excise tax on wine, the second highest on beer and the third highest on spirits."