Using these data sources, new figures commissioned by DIGI from DCU Economist Tony Foley show that per adult alcohol consumption decreased in 2015 to 11.013 litres per annum from 11.086 lpa in 2014.
By comparison, it had been at around 11 lpa back in 1994 and peaked at 14.44 lpa in 2001. Since 2001 the average per adult alcohol consumption has declined by 23.7%.
Table 1. Average per adult alcohol consumption 2014 and 2015
|2014||2015||% change 2014/2015|
|Litres of pure alcohol (LPA), Total consumption||39,838,510||39,711,197||-0.3|
|Population aged 15 and over, millions||3.5937||3.6060||+0.3|
|Litres of pure alcohol per adult (LPA)||11.086||11.013||-0.7|
Despite the number of adults (15 and over) coming into the market increasing slightly by 0.3%, beer and cider consumption decreased by 1.5% and 6.9% respectively in 2015.
However spirits consumption increased by 1.9% while wine consumption rose by 2.2%.
The pattern of annual average per adult consumption of alcohol over the past five years is shown below:
Tony Foley’s figures serve to put the Irish figure for alcohol consumption into an international context.
“The latest OECD Health Statistics for 2015 reports an OECD average alcohol consumption (for 2013 or latest year available) of 8.8 lpa,” he explains, “ Ireland in this database is measured as 10.6 lpa for 2013 ( Foley estimates the Irish 2013 level to be 10.7 lpa).
“The OECD average has been identified as a policy target for Ireland. However, this is not necessarily appropriate as an exact target. The OECD database includes far distant and culturally specific countries such as Turkey and Israel with very low alcohol consumption of 2.6 lpa and 1.4 lpa respectively and several other countries with ‘lowish’ consumption such as Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and USA.
“The non-EU countries in the database have an average consumption of 7.1 lpa. The 21 EU members included in the OECD database have an average consumption of 9.9 lpa compared to the 10.6 recorded in the database for Ireland. Ireland is not widely out of line with this,” he continues, “These figures exclude unrecorded consumption which can be relatively high in some countries such as, for example, Portugal.”
Tony Foley also points out in the report that Ireland is ranked ninth-highest in the OECD database with all eight higher countries being from the EU. This ranking contrasts with 2001, which was Ireland’s peak consumption level, when Ireland was the highest alcohol-consuming country in the OECD.
Of those in the OECD database the eight EU countries with higher alcohol consumption than Ireland were:
Austria 12.2 lpa
Czech Republic 11.5 lpa
Estonia 11.8 lpa
France 11.1 lpa
Germany 10.9 lpa
Hungary 11.1 lpa
Luxembourg 11.0 lpa
Poland 10.8 lpa
(figures relate to 2013 or latest available year)
Tony Foley calculated the 2015
level of average per adult
consumption of alcohol from
the CSO Population and
Migration Estimates for
April 2015 (published in
August 2015) and the Revenue
Commissioners’ alcohol clearances data
(2015 figures made available
on March 5th 2016).