Beer exports worth €280m in 2016

Total beer sales here rose by 3.7% in 2016 with 66.3% of sales channeled through the on-trade sector.

Ireland continues to have the highest percentage of on-trade beer sales in the European Union albeit down 1% on 2015’s 67.3% figure.

To mark International Beer Day last Friday (4th August), the Irish Brewers Association, the representative voice for the brewing industry in Ireland, has released its 2016 annual Beer Market Report.

According to the report, “After a marginal decline in beer consumption in 2015, last year saw an overall increase in consumption by 3% while per capita consumption rose by just under 1%”.

Irish beer exports were valued at €280 million in 2016 and while down on the 2015 figure of €285 million, beer exports have shown growth of nearly 23% in two years, with 40% of all beer produced in Ireland being exported, according to the IBA report.

Beer remains Ireland’s most popular alcoholic drink, with a 46.2% market share, down slightly on the 2015 figure of 47.0% as wine, spirits and cider all gained share in 2016.

Wine consumption rose from 27.7% to 27.8% while spirits consumption rose from 18.7% in 2015 to 19.2% in 2016 and cider consumption grew from 6.6% to 6.8%.

The report looks at Revenue Commissioners-derived consumption figures across the various types of beer. It shows that in 2016 a higher percentage of consumers were drinking lager than in 2015 (up from 60.4% to 60.9%). This came at the expense of stout and ale consumption which fell from 33.4% to 33.0% and from 6.2% to 6.1% respectively. Craft beer continued to gain share of the overall beer market with the IBA estimating an increased share figure of 3.4%, up from 2.5% in 2015 and just 1.2% in 2014.

However overall beer production declined marginally by just under 1%.

“We export a lot to the UK and this could have been an issue in regard to Brexit,” the Head of the Irish Brewers Association Jonathan McDade told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Brexit would have had some impact as export values would have risen due to the decline in Sterling, putting a little pressure on export volumes – this could be one factor here.

“Also alcohol consumption has experienced a degree of decline all over Western Europe so this, too, might have added to the marginal decline.”

The IBA has also called on the Government to support the sector by reducing the excise burden in Budget 2018.  Excise in Ireland has gone up 42% in the past six years and Ireland has the second-highest excise on beer in the EU as well as the EU’s most expensive alcohol.  Beer excise receipts were €430 million in 2016, up from €417 million in 2015.

“With the looming challenge of Brexit, the Irish Government must avoid economic own-goals that would negatively impact the brewing sector,” concludes the report, “Reducing the excise rate on beer would be a welcome move.”

The Irish Brewers Association’s 2016 report highlights the important role that the brewing sector has in supporting the Irish economy.

“Beer exports continue to perform strongly, accounting for 20% of total beverage exports while the sector continues to contribute enormously to the Exchequer with domestic beer sales up marginally due to favourable tourism figures and population growth,” commented Jonathan McDade, “Irish consumers pay the second-highest rates of excise on beer in the European Union, eleven times greater than beer drinkers in Germany.  Excise is a tax on jobs, tourism and the hospitality sector and we call on the Government to reduce excise rates. The real success story of the Irish brewing sector is that exports continue to thrive. Ireland already boasts production of some of the world’s most iconic beer brands and it’s encouraging that Irish beer remains so popular in other markets,” he concluded.





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