Welsh drinks strategy highlights spirits growth

The Food and Drink Wales Industry Board (FDWIB) has launched a new drinks strategy for Wales, which seeks to highlight key areas of growth across the Welsh alcohol sector.

Led by the Welsh Drink Cluster, as well as the FDWIB and the Welsh government, The Growing the Drinks Industry in Wales Strategy celebrates the country’s drinks sector.

Founded in March 2017 by Lesley Griffiths, cabinet secretary for environment planning and rural affairs, the Welsh Drinks Cluster aims to “raise the profile of the Welsh drinks sector and to lay out the direction for the industry”.

The industry provides a “significant contribution” to the Welsh economy, adding a turnover in excess of £800 million (US$1 billion) and a Welsh retail sales value of over £950m (US$1.2bn). The sector includes beer, cider, wine, spirits, bottled water, soft drinks, fruit juices, hot drinks, dairy and non-dairy drinks.

The inaugural strategy specifies large areas of growth such as spirits and low-alcohol beer. The report notes “substantial growth” in the sales of gin and rum while sales of no- and low-alcohol beer has “outperformed” other brands in the beer and ale category.

The strategy also analyses barriers to growth and challenges in the Welsh drinks industry. Obstacles identified include skills shortages, access to energy, changing consumption patterns and the decline of pubs and traditional on-trade outlets.

Other concerns include regulatory issues such as the sugar tax, minimum pricing on alcohol and consumer attitudes to plastic.

To address the skills shortage, a partnership has begun with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink.

Andy Richardson, chair of the FDWIB, said: “The development of the drinks sector strategy marks a key stage of the Drinks Cluster’s journey.

“Initial cluster activity has revealed a number of strategic priorities which respond to the industry’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These priorities have been identified as innovation, scale up, marketing and skills.

“The next step for the cluster will involve working within special interest groups to develop an identity and marketing strategy tailored to each sector’s positioning and needs.

“Our aim is that by working together on the key strategic priorities we will: help build Welsh drink brands both at home and abroad; improve skills and knowledge across the sector to support innovation; and increase the environmental performance of the drinks industry.”

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}