At the publication of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland’s Annual Review of 2010, ABFI Director Kathryn D’Arcy stated that the last 12 months had been a period of consolidation and stabilisation for the Irish drinks sector, characterised by the repatriation of revenue from cross-border shopping following the December 2009 excise reduction.
She said that while this pro-consumer measure clearly had the desired effect of encouraging people to shop locally (thus stimulating local businesses, communities and protecting jobs), the wider industry was still suffering major challenges as a result of the economic downturn, deep recession and low consumer confidence.
While there was a clear repatriation of sales and revenue from cross-border shopping over the year, overall sales and consumption continued to fall dramatically with the on-trade suffering a 14 per cent decline in the year to end of July 2010. At this stage, ABFI and the wider Irish drinks industry drew up a stimulus plan for the hospitality sector which called on the Government to introduce a series of measures to assist this employment-intensive industry.
She said that the decision not to increase excise rates in last December’s Budget was a further welcome measure, adding that the drinks industry was ready to work with the incoming Government to support the 78,000 jobs the industry provides along with the €3 billion turnover and €1 billion exports that it generates.
“Throughout 2010 ABFI profiled the major contribution our employment-intensive sector makes to the economy, to Irish exports and to tourism,” she commented, “We also demonstrated our commitment to responsible marketing and a more mature attitude to alcohol in Ireland and represented the drinks industry at the National Substance Misuse Strategy Group that is continuing to sit and is expected to report later this year.
“At a time when the drinks industry has been identified as a key sector to lead an export-led recovery, such measures are required to ensure a solid domestic market on which our export performance is built.
“Over the next 12 months we will be making this argument to the new Government and look forward to working with them to support this major national industry.”