Alcohol consumption decreases again

Total alcohol consumption decreased slightly in 2015 (by 0.3%) while per capita consumption fell by 0.7%, according to the latest CSO and the Revenue Commissioners figures.

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
Beer (LPA) 18,820,081 18,538,561 -1.5
Cider (LPA) 3,120,539 2,905,029 -6.9
Spirits (LPA) 7,217,997 7,357,644 +1.9
Wine (LPA) 10,679,893 10,909,963 +2.2

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:




2015          11.013

2014          11.086

2013          10.730

2012          11.614

2011          11.692


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).


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