Diageo unveils plans for €200 million carbon-neutral brewery in Ireland

1 Aug 2022

Diageo has unveiled plans for a €200 million carbon-neutral lager and ales brewery in Ireland – the country’s first.

The 2 million hectolitre-capacity facility – set to be built on a greenfield site in Littleconnel, County Kildare – will brew brands such as Rockshore, Harp, Hop House 13, Smithwick’s, Kilkenny and Carlsberg, the London-headquartered drinks giant said in a recent statement.

Diageo unveils plans for €200 million carbon-neutral brewery in Ireland
© AdobeStock/alexkich

Besides being powered with 100% renewable energy, the Littleconnel site will meet its carbon-neutral promises by harnessing the latest process technology to minimise overall energy and water consumption, said Diageo. “This will enable the brewery to avoid up to 15,000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually.”

‘Contributing to Ireland’s climate policy goals’

Colin O’Brien, category head of global beer supply for Diageo said: “We are fully committed to embedding sustainability across our business from grain to glass and this announcement represents the next step in our integrated approach towards achieving one of Diageo’s Society 2030: Spirit of Progress commitments by becoming carbon neutral in our direct operations.”

The Littleconnel facility will also contribute to Ireland’s climate policy goals, the company said, which supports the transition to a low carbon economy.

Diageo is yet to submit its planning application to Kildare County Council. If the application – expected to be filed in September 2022 – is successful, the company expects to start brewing at the plant in 2024 following a construction period of “approximately two years”.

Supporting growth beyond the Guinness factory

Beside environmental goals, the investment will support future growth of Diageo Ireland’s beer brands, according to the statement.

The transfer of lagers and ale production to the new facility will also enable its St James’s Gate site in Dublin – home to Guinness – to increase production of the dry black stout to meet global demand.

Recently, in its 2022 interim results presentation, chief executive officer Ivan Menezes marked “production constraints” for Guinness products including the alcohol-free version, Guinness 0.0, adding “demand is way beyond what we expected […] over the course of the next year, we hope to get back into a position of supply”.

He said the Guinness brand as a whole is “well positioned for key growth trends in beer,” contributing to Diageo’s growth predictions for its fiscal year 2023 to 2025 in the range of 5% and 7% on organic net sales, with organic operating profit growth in the 6% to 9% region.

The company is due to release further financial results on Thursday.

Shifting other lagers and ales production to Littleconnel will also support the delivery of another Diageo Society 2030 commitment, “creating the physical space required for the use of renewable technologies at St James’s Gate,” said the company.

St James’s Gate will remain Irelands largest brewing operation, though the new site in Littleconnel will become the second biggest, creating 50 direct jobs and up to 1,000 during construction, Diageo added.

Deputy prime minister and minister for enterprise trade and employment, Leo Varadkar, said the facility is “really great news for the future development of Ireland’s thriving food and drink industry, and also for the wider national economy.”

Varadkar added: “We must leave the planet in a better way than we found it. Industry has a role to play and I’m really pleased to see Diageo taking the lead and investing in this carbon neutral brewery, which I’m sure will be a leading example for others.”

FlavourPrint & Vivanda acquisition

News of Diageo’s Irish investment follows its recent acquisition of ‘FlavourPrint’ flavour matching technology developer Vivanda.

The technology is powered by artificial intelligence, analysing and mapping consumers’ flavour preferences based on a series of “simple questions” against a large sensory database of foods and aromas to distinguish their taste preferences, or “FlavourPrint”.

It can then recommend brands and variants the consumer is most likely to enjoy.

The purchase gives it access to Vivanda’s digital flavour matching platform ‘What’s Your Whisky,’ launched in 2019 and now rolled out across 21 markets in 16 languages.

“It has been integrated into the physical stores and e-commerce platforms of a number of our key customers in Europe and North America, as well as across our direct-to-consumer channels such as malts.com to enable purchase recommendations,” said Diageo.

Diageo also plans to expand FlavorPrint technology to “other categories,” it said, although did not specify what this could entail.

The deal will also support the continued development of the company’s analytics and digital marketing capabilities, “providing a deeper understanding of consumer taste preferences and helping to unlock opportunities in innovation and personalised consumer experiences,” according to the press release.

Vivanda also brings with it the ‘Journey of Flavour’ experience at the Princes Street, Edinburgh attraction for Diageo’s Johnnie Walker.

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