Ireland’s beer sector significantly impacted by Covid-19: Drinks Ireland|Beer

Irish craft beer exports to the USA were valued at €58m last year
Beer exports increased by 11% to €330 million

New report shows that beer sales and production declined in 2019, just prior to the Covid-19 outbreak



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11 August 2020

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Ibec-affiliated group Drinks Ireland|Beer has released its annual Beer Market Report which updates on the performance of the sector in 2019, just prior to the Covid crisis.  The trade body has also said that provisional figures for 2020 show that Ireland’s beer sector has been heavily impacted by Covid-19.

The new report shows that total beer consumption fell by 2% last year, with per capita beer consumption down by 2.9%.  New provisional Revenue clearance data released last week shows that beer sales fell by 17.4% in April, May and June 2020 (Q2), compared to the same period last year.

‘Most heavily impacted drinks sector’

According to the new Revenue figures, beer was the most heavily impacted drinks sector from Covid-19 in terms of sales. This is due to the closure of the on-trade, where the majority of beer produced in Ireland is consumed. In 2019, 62.7% of all beer sales were in the on-trade and 37.3% were in the off-trade. Furthermore, 80% of stout sales, 78% of ale sales and 53% of lager sales were recorded in the on-trade sector.

Overall, total production was down marginally between 2018 and 2019 by 1%. Drinks Ireland|Beer has said that in 2020, production will be down much more significantly across the sector as a result of Covid-19.

The new report also found that beer exports increased in 2019 by 8.5%, reaching €305 million. The top five export markets for Irish beer last year were the United Kingdom, France, the USA, Germany and Canada.

Direct employment among Drinks Ireland|Beer members was up marginally last year by 4%, from 1,103 people to 1,147 people.

Ireland’s favourite drink

Drinks Ireland|Beer’s report also confirms that beer is Ireland’s favourite drink, with a 44.6% market share in 2019. Lager is Ireland’s most popular beer (63.5%), followed by stout (29.3%), ale (6.2%) and non-alcoholic beer (1.0%). There was an increase in non-alcoholic beer sales between 2018 and 2019.

The sector is also under pressure a result of beer excise, which is the second highest in Europe after Finland. Last year, the sector’s excise contribution to the Government was €421 million and over the past decade, it has contributed €3.84 billion to the exchequer. Drinks Ireland|Beer has called for alcohol excise to be decreased in this year’s Budget, to help support the sector, particularly at this challenging time.

Jonathan McDade, director of Drinks Ireland|Beer said the government needs to set up a taskforce that is aimed at providing financial support for pubs that remain closed due to the Covid-19 crisis. “With almost 50% of pubs remaining closed, a strong joined up Government support package is a priority, to avoid mass closures,” McDade said.

“Despite these challenging times, Ireland continues to love beer and it remains the nation’s favourite drink,” he added. “In recent years and prior to Covid-19, we saw significant innovation in the sector, resulting in more choice than ever for Irish consumers and an increase in the popularity of non-alcoholic beer. The sector continued to make an important contribution to the economy in 2019, with €421 million in excise receipts and €305 million worth of beer exports.”



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