Drinks Ireland calls for enhanced investment to support exports from NI drinks producers

April 13, 2022
  • All island trade body launches policy priorities ahead of Assembly Elections
  • Calls for support to enable drinks industry meet ambitious decarbonisation targets
  • Parties urged to ensure safeguards are in place to maintain and enhance all-island nature of drinks industry

Northern Ireland’s drinks industry faces many challenges, from pressures on global supply chains, to the need for Governmental support to achieve decarbonisation. This is according to Drinks Ireland, the all-island representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers, which has released its policy priorities ahead of the upcoming Assembly Elections.

As part of its key asks, Drinks Ireland, which represents 16 drinks companies in Northern Ireland, has called for enhanced support for Northern Irish food/drink producers and exporters in future Department of the Economy and Invest NI strategies and funding programmes.

To further bolster exports, it has said that investment is critical to develop Northern Ireland’s transport infrastructure including ever-enhancing access to ports and shipping.

With climate change firmly on the agenda, and drinks producers making significant progress to reach ambitious targets, Drinks Ireland said that new and increased supports to help the industry deliver on the decarbonisation of energy sources, operations and transport are required.

With the drinks industry operating on an all-island basis, it said that protection of cross-border supply chains on the island of Ireland post Brexit are needed.

Additionally, protection of access to both EU market and UK internal market for Northern Irish drinks producers is vital.

It has called for enhanced North- South coordination and cooperation to regulate, protect and promote Irish whiskey, Irish cream and Poitín which have all-island Geographic Indications.

Clarity is also needed on how the new UK alcohol duty system may apply in Northern Ireland.

The other policy priorities are:

  • Ongoing engagement with the industry on potential reforms to the Planning Act (NI), with a view to providing an expedient and efficient system for the consideration of planning applications for industrial development.
  • Active consultation with the industry on any future proposals affecting the sales and marketing of drink products, to ensure any new regulations are proportionate and evidence-based.
  • Modernisation of the rules for direct-to-consumer sales by Northern Irish drinks producers.
  • The expansion of small producer relief to smaller distilleries and spirits producers.


Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said:

“From producing the iconic, world-famous brands of Baileys and Bushmills to fostering a new wave of craft distilleries and breweries, Northern Ireland punches above its weight when it comes to drinks production.

Exports from the sector are delivering for the economy, and it sustains jobs in communities across Northern Ireland. Additionally, as travel and tourism gears-up again following Covid-19, Northern Irish distilleries offer the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Despite this, the industry faces many challenges, and we would call on all parties to consider our policy priorities ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections, and into the future. Together, we can deliver for Northern Ireland.”