Over 90 million bottles of Irish cream liqueur sold annually

New figures show that exports of Irish cream liqueur increased in 2018, while sales in the Irish market also increased, according to Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).

Preliminary export statistics for 2018 suggest there was an export growth rate of approximately 8% for this year, driven mainly by strong export growth to the US.

Irish cream liqueur is one of the EU’s top five spirits export categories. The top five markets for Irish cream liqueur in 2017 were the US, where 1.9 million cases were sold, followed by the UK, Canada, Germany and then Spain.

Globally, 7.5 million cases – or 90 million bottles – of Irish cream liqueur were sold in 2017, up 2.9% from 2016.

In Ireland, sales are also on the up; 1.2 million bottles of Irish cream liqueur were sold here in 2017, up 5.6% on 2016.

Irish cream liqueur is protected by a geographical indication (GI). This is similar to Champagne, which must be produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.

Irish cream liqueur must be made on the island of Ireland, containing Irish dairy cream and Irish whiskey, in accordance with an approved technical file, which dictates how it must be produced.

Commenting on the recent statistics, director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), Patricia Callan, said: “Some producers have been successful in positioning cream liqueurs as a ‘treat’ or dessert ingredient as opposed to being simply a spirit liqueur.

The Irish cream liqueur sector makes an important contribution to the Irish economy, purchasing 316 million litres of fresh cream from Irish farmers every year, sourced from 46,000 dairy cows.

She concluded: “As we look ahead to 2019, we anticipate that exports in the category will continue to grow. With this in mind, the continued protection of Irish cream liqueurs in export markets through the GI will be vitally important.”