ABFI say growth in the Irish drinks industry will deliver for Ireland’s farmers

Growth should not be taken for granted – Public Health Alcohol Bill will limit growth and will means Irish farmers will be BANNED from alcohol ads

In its submission to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the diversification of the tillage sector in Ireland, representatives of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) told the committee, that the drinks industry purchases approximately 10% of Ireland’s annual tillage harvest. The vast majority of Irish breweries and distilleries source their barley and malt locally, purchasing over 200,000 tonnes of barley every year. The Irish Whiskey and Spirits sector has seen a resurgence, with global sales of Ireland’s two main spirits – Irish whiskey and Irish cream liquor- totalling nearly 16 million cases in 2016 and were worth nearly €4 billion in sales value.

Patricia Callan, Director of ABFI said “The Drinks industry has achieved robust export growth which is directly benefitting Irish farmers. Irish breweries and distilleries are proud to work with a wide range of Irish agricultural suppliers to source malted barley, unmalted grains as well as fresh Irish cream used in Irish cream liquors and apples used in cider. Increasing export growth will lead to increased demand for Irish agricultural raw materials and the commitments being made by Irish drinks producers under Bord Bia’s Origin Green scheme mean more agricultural raw materials will be sourced locally. Growth in the Irish drink industry will deliver for Ireland’s farmers.

The Committee also heard about the Public Health Alcohol Bill and how this significant threat may impact the drinks industry and in turn the agricultural sector.

Patricia Callan said “Growth should not be taken for granted. The proposals contained in the Government’s Public Health Alcohol Bill will undermine competition, innovation and investment in the Irish drinks industry. The bill will also greatly limit the capacity of the industry to deliver on the Government’s FoodWise 2025 targets which otherwise we would greatly exceed.”

“One of the biggest concerns for the industry is that the Bill will make Ireland one of the most restrictive countries in the world for the marketing of alcohol products. In fact, the very farmers who supply the industry will be banned from ads. For example, images of farmers in barley fields and orchards will be prohibited. We believe there is scope for reasonable amendments on advertising and labelling which would protect competition, innovation and investment in the industry; support the ongoing delivery of FoodWise 2025; and in turn sustain the capacity of Irish breweries and distilleries to increase their purchases of Irish grain and malt.”

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