Alcohol consumption down 23.5% since 2001

Last year’s average adult alcohol consumption levels were lower than those in 2016 according to a new report out from Tony Foley commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland.

Since hitting a peak in 2001 average per capita adult alcohol consumption has dropped by 23.2% despite a strong economy, near full employment and record tourism numbers reports the DCU Economist.

His report shows that while average per adult alcohol consumption increased in 2018 by just 0.1% (11.094 litres of pure alcohol vs 11.080 in 2017), this figure is 23.2% lower than in 2001.

Total consumption overall increased by 1.8% in 2018 while there was an increase in the adult population of 1.7%.



Beer remains Ireland’s most popular drink, making up 45% of all alcohol consumption last year, a 7% increase on 2017. In fact consumption of beer increased by 2.7% while spirits consumption increased by 5.6%.



Wine is the second most-popular alcoholic drink category at 27% of all alcohol consumption last year but its popularity declined by 2% in 2018.



Spirits ranks third with a 20.5% share of all consumption but with the highest year-on-year increase (up 5.6% in 2018 compared to 2017).



Cider is responsible for 7.5% of all consumption, up 0.4% in 2018 on 2017.


“We need to consider the long-term trend which is showing an almost 25% decrease in alcohol consumption over the past two decades,” explained a DIGI spokesperson,  “Overall, the long-term decline in alcohol consumption over the past two decades indicates that Irish adults are enjoying spirits, wine and beer in a more accountable manner.

“The Irish drinks market is highly competitive and constantly evolving in line with consumer preferences and tastes. What we’ve witnessed over the last decade – but particularly over the last six years – is the growth of a new wave of businesses flexible and eager to serve shifts in consumer taste and develop new, innovative products and services.

“The increase in spirits consumption is broadly in line with the fast growth of Ireland’s distilling industry,” continued the spokesperson, “In 2013, there were four active distilleries in Ireland; we now currently have 23 in operation. A further 24 are under development, with some planning to be in operation before the end of the year. These are large and small companies dotted nationwide. It’s no surprise to see an increase in consumption of spirits as we’ve seen a recent change in consumer behaviours, trends and habits towards higher quality and premium products.

“The small decrease in Ireland’s wine consumption is also interesting, especially considering the rise of the restaurant and ‘foodie’ culture in Ireland. While it’s probable that changing tastes and habits influence wine consumption, the decline may also relate to the fact that Ireland has the highest excise tax on wine in the European Union.”




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