2014 good for all but spirits

Beer volumes rose 4% in 2014, reversing a trend of declining sales, according to Revenue Commissioners’ provisional clearance data for the 12-month period.

The Revenue Commissioners’ clearance figure puts the total volume of beer at 18.82 million litres of pure alcohol, up from 2013’s figure of 18.09 million litres which itself was down on 2012’s figure of 19.28 million litres.

The cider market too showed a little growth, rising 0.4% from 62.14 million litres of cider in 2013 to 62.41 million litres last year.ˇ

The 2012 clearance figure from Revenue was 63.76 million litres.

“There hasn’t been any marked increase in sales over the past year amongst brewers, with the sector continuing to operate in a challenging environment compared with ten years ago,” observed the spokesman for the Irish Beer Association and the Irish Cider Association Jonathan McDaid, “The increase in revenue clearance figures for both beer and cider could be attributed to the recent upturn in the hospitality and tourism sectors.”

However spirits did not enjoy any growth last year but declined nearly 0.9% from 2013’s 7.28 million litre figure to 7.22 million litres last year. The 2012 figure from Revenue was 8.26 million litres.

“Growth in spirits was relatively flat last year,” agreed the Irish Spirits Association’s Aoife Keane, “However we saw some interesting trends within the categories.

“Imported gin showed the largest growth overall, increasing by 22.1%. We also saw imported whisky grow by 6.8%.

“Importantly for producers in Ireland, we saw growth right across all our home-grown spirits. Irish whiskey grew by 9.6%. This is very positive news for the 25-plus new distillery projects across the country which will be looking to break into the ever-important home market over the next five years. 2014 also saw Irish gin growing by 1.9% and vodka by 4.1%.

“Again, this is incredibly positive news for producers in Ireland.

“Despite some positives, we’re still facing an incredibly tough market. Ireland has the third-highest excise rates on spirits in the EU. Consumers can purchase two bottles of Irish whiskey in New York for the price of one in Ireland. This is an unsustainable position and will undoubtedly damage tourists value-for-money perceptions of Ireland.

“We call on Government to reduce excise rates across all alcohol categories in the upcoming Budget 2016.”

Wine, on the other hand, experienced quite an uplift with clearance figures suggesting a rise of 6.9% to 85.44 million litres of wine or 9.49 million cases last year from 2013’s 8.88 million case figure. In 2012 wine cleared 87.8 million litres or 9.75 million cases.

“Some of this uplift is attributable to stocks being cleared from Bond in anticipation of a duty increase” commented Michael Foley, Chairman of the Irish Wine Association, “so the full increase is not due to consumption. In overall terms, the off-trade decreased by 4% (Source AC Nielsen MAT Dec 2014), while the on-trade is back in positive growth and should continue to prosper as the economy recovers and we get increased UK and US visitors on the back of a weak €uro.”

But according to Alcohol Action Ireland, the figures indicate that per capita alcohol consumption has begun to rise again to 11 litres last year, up 2.5% on the 2013 figure.

AAI calculates that the total quantity of alcohol consumed last year was 39.5 million litres, a 2.5% increase in per capita consumption over the 2013 per capita figure of 10.7.

But according to ABFI, since 2001 the average adult consumption rate has declined by 23% and the long-term trend is one of declining consumption.

“The 2014 average adult consumption is still substantially below the 2011 and 2012 levels,” stated the Federation, “Average per adult consumption is now slightly above 11 litres per annum. By comparison, it was just below 11 lpa in 1990 and peaked at 14.44 lpa in 2001.”


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