By Joe Dermody
Premium Irish whiskey is ideally placed to enjoy sales growth in Canada, where consumers are willing to pay extra for quality spirits, according to Bord Bia research.
Market analysis by BMI Research for Bord Bia showed an appetite for premium product among Canadian consumers, whose 3.6% increased spend on drinks is running ahead of a 1.2% increase in volumes consumed. However, only 6% of Irish whiskey currently on sale in Canada are premium brands.
Bord Bia says this equates to a significant opportunity for Irish whiskey producers to grow the sale premium brands in Canada, building on phenomenal triple digit sales increases in premium Irish whiskey in other major markets in recent years.
Irish whiskey exports to Canada reached €16.7m in 2016, up 171% since 2011. Export values rose by a further 20.5% in the first ten months of 2017, according to CSO figures.
“Canada is one of the word’s fastest-growing markets for Irish whiskey,” said William Lavelle, head of the Irish Whiskey Association (IWA), during a Department of Agriculture trade mission to USA and Canada. “We see continuing double-digit growth in Irish whiskey exports to Canada, including to the large Irish diaspora population, particularly for premium, authentic Irish whiskey brands to prosper in the Canadian market.”
The mission is the first large-scale trade visit to Canada since the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into effect in September 2017. The new CETA deal has removed several major trade restrictions on spirits from the EU. Canadian recognition of the EU’s geographical indications (GI) is likely to boost sales of quality EU spirits, including some premium Irish whiskey brands.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said: “Clearly there is a growing demand for quality Irish spirits in Canada. I look forward to Irish companies increasing their exports of Irish whiskey, Irish cream and other spirits to Canada.”
Canada was the second biggest export market for Irish Cream in 2016/2017, with exports increasing from €35.9m in 2016 to €39.5m in 2017, up 10%; it is the sixth biggest export market for Irish whiskey with sales of €13.5m in 2016 rising to €16.6m in 2017, up 22%.
The Irish trade mission has facilitated meetings between Irish spirit companies and representatives of the key agencies and companies in the importation, distribution and retail alcohol sector in Canada and the USA.
IWA member companies on the visit include Irish Distillers, Walsh Whiskey, Tullamore DEW, Teeling Whiskey Company, Cooley Distillery, Chapelgate Whiskey, Glendalough Distillery, Dublin Liberties Distillery, Barr an Uisce Whiskey and Blackwater Distillery.
The companies attended an expo at the Irish Embassy Pub and Grill in Toronto, and an IWA briefing and tasting event for Canadian media with the support of Spirits Canada.