Drinks sector could double exports, create more jobs - report

New study warns high-taxes and regulatory costs hampering industry growth

Ireland’s drink industry could grow exports to more than €2 billion over the next 15 years and create an additional 13,000 jobs across the country, according to a new study.

The report by agri-food economist Ciaran Fitzgerald, which was commissioned by the Ibec-affiliated Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), warns however that potential growth could be harmed by high taxes and regulatory costs, which it says places Irish-based businesses at a significant disadvantage to other countries.

The study notes that excise and VAT taxes on alcohol are the second highest in the European Union, resulting in prices that are more than 60 per cent higher than the EU average.

Mr Fitzgerald said the costs associated with alcohol in Ireland were at odds with the Government’s vision for the sector, which were unveiled in the recent Foodwise 2025 strategic plan. The ten-year initiative for the agri-food sector aims to increase overall exports by 85 per cent to €19 billion and create 23,000 additional jobs.


“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,” said Mr Fitzgerald, a former director of the Food and Drink Federation.

“The imposition of high taxes and regulatory costs is not economically sustainable and will only serve to undermine the economic contribution of the sector and curb its growth,” he added.

As well as Government support, the report notes that about €1.15 billion in private investment would also be needed over the next 10 years to boost production.

The study shows the sector employs approximately 92,000 people, many of which are in rural areas. Exports currently total around €1 billion with Irish products being shipped to over 125 markets worldwide.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist