Irish beverage exports were recently celebrated at a trade showcase in Chicago, with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and Board Bia CEO Tara McCarthey in attendance.
As part of a week-long trade mission to the US and Mexico, the event involved 25 Irish drinks exporters engaging with Binny’s Beverage Depot, the largest drinks retailer in the Mid-West, and other on trade customers from the region.
Minister Creed spoke about the importance of international markets in Ireland`s food and drink export strategy as Brexit negotiations began earlier this week.
He said: “The USA is the most important market for Irish alcohol beverages amounting to €514 million or over half our total food and beverage exports here. It is the destination for almost 45% of Irish whiskey, the fastest growing spirits brand globally with exports of 3.7 million cases.
“The 2016 figure represents an increase of 8.5% on the previous year and an increase of 47% over the last 5 years. Ireland was a key player in the whiskey business of the US up to the early part of the last century and lost ground for a variety of reasons. I am determined that our new and impressive progress will endure.”
Bord Bia used the opportunity to inform US trade and retail customers how Ireland`s investment in consumer insight, routes to market and the Origin Green sustainability programme can deliver benefits for their business.
Ms McCarthy said their consumer and market insight highlighted the US as a priority destination for Irish drinks given its size and appetite for new flavours.
She said the breadth and depth of the Irish product range in Binny’s Beverage Depot was proof of how far the industry had come in such a relatively short time period.
“We have invested over 1,000 hours in research over the last three years to appreciate the evolving US consumer tastes. Bord Bia’s research identified three key areas of focus for Irish whiskey to ensure success namely native personality, maturity and flavour complexity,” she said.
“We have worked with over 20 Irish companies in the past three years to meet these demands through consumer insight and branding as well as market research and trade shows. Bord Bia has also partnered with these companies to get `feet on the street` in the US market through our talent development programmes.
“Bord Bia will continue to target key buyers with the aim of bringing 10 to our Marketplace trade event in 2018 to meet with Irish suppliers and provide them with guided itineraries to ensure that they feel the full impact of our sustainable production system.”