Limiting drink advertising threatens a key enterprise

The Irish drinks industry is a hugely important part of the Irish economy: exporting high-quality branded products worth over €1.26bn per annum; employing over 62,000 people countrywide; providing over €2bn in value add to the Irish economy; while consumers of Irish alcohol products contribute over €1.8bn through taxation to the Irish exchequer.

Further back up the supply chain, our industry offers significant support to the primary sector, purchasing quality raw materials for the premium brands for which Ireland is famous.

In 2012 alone, €400m was spent by the Irish drinks industry on raw materials. Our industry purchased over 207,000 tonnes of malted barley from Irish farmers for use in beer and whiskey production; 300m litres of milk for use in cream liqueurs; 46,000 tonnes of apples for use in cider making. In total, it is estimated that over 5,000 farming families nationwide are supported by our industry through our purchase of raw materials.

The Irish agriculture sector provides our industry with a secure supply of high-quality agricultural commodities, a standard which ranks among the best in the world. The relationship between the Irish agriculture sector and the Irish drinks industry is symbiotic, with both parties reliant on the success of the other to ensure prosperity into the future. The success of famous Irish drinks brands are due in no small part to this high-quality raw material source.

Working in partnership with farmers, many leading industry players have sought to protect the environment which produces these valuable raw materials. Sustainability is key to the future success of the Irish drinks industry and Irish drinks companies and, as such, we take our responsibilities to protect the environment very seriously.

Recent proposals by the Department of Health threaten the growth potential of the drinks industry. The industry is wholly aware that a small minority of Irish people have an issue with alcohol misuse, and we are committed to addressing this critical social problem.

Current proposals to prohibit industry support for artistic and sporting events, to curtail advertising, and to introduce further levies will not have the effect of addressing alcohol misuse in this country.

The proposals will do little more than limit the ability of the industry to innovate and market our products and penalise the large majority of customers who enjoy alcohol sensibly and responsibly. Without a strong domestic base we will be unable to achieve further growth as a major competitor on global exports markets.

The Irish drinks industry is deeply embedded in the social fabric of Irish society. It touches all parts of rural and urban Ireland with many Irish farming families continuing to rely on the domestic and export success of this crucial Irish industry for future prosperity.

In numbers, the drinks industry supports Irish agriculture via the:

* €400m spent purchasing raw materials from Irish farmers in 2012.

* 207,000 tonnes of malted barley used in beer and whiskey production yearly.

* 300m litres of milk =purchased from Irish farmers for use in cream liqueurs

* 46,000 tonnes of apples for use in cider-making.

* 5,000 farming families are supported by the drinks industry through its purchase of raw materials.

* Anna Malmhake is chairperson of Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) and chairperson and chief executive, IDL Pernod.

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