Beer remains Ireland’s favourite alcohol beverage, but consumption remains below pre-pandemic levels and more and more consumers are trying zero alcohol variants of their favourite beer.
The annual Irish Beer Market Report from Drinks Ireland|Beer, shows that the ending of the pandemic resulted in a 110% increase in total production of beer in Ireland as both the domestic and international markets reopened, but beer- and overall alcohol consumption – continues to decline.*
It found that beer’s share of the national alcohol market grew by over 8% to 43.5%, meaning it remains Ireland’s favourite drink.
Total beer production in Ireland more than doubled in 2022, as national and global restrictions put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic were phased out and people once again were able to drink their favourite beer in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Two thirds of beer is purchased in on-trade venues like bars.
The UK is the biggest export market for Irish beer, followed by the United States, France, Germany, and Belgium.
While consumption grew year-on-year in 2022 as pandemic restrictions were lifted, total consumption is still down over 3% compared to 2019 with per capita consumption down by 7.8%, mirroring a continued fall in alcohol consumption in Ireland over the last 20 years.
Nearly 60% of the beer consumed in Ireland is lager, with stout accounting for nearly 35%.
Meanwhile, 28% of the price of a pint paid for by the consumer goes directly to the Exchequer in VAT and excise, with Irish excise rates the highest in the EU except for Finland.
Sales of zero alcohol beer increased by 25% last year and 0.0% beer’s market share has increased 4-fold over the last five years. All signs are that Ireland will develop a significant zero alcohol beer market in the years to come if promotion continues.
“The recovery in beer sales, following the full reopening of pubs due to the ending of COVID-19 restrictions, is to be welcomed,” said director of Drinks Ireland Cormac Healy. “These increased sales followed large drops in consumption in 2020 and 2021, as consumers stayed home. However, it is notable that beer sales have not fully recovered, as consumers generally reduce their alcohol consumption. Ireland’s extremely high rates of excise duty on beer do nothing to help sales either, of course.
“The growth of 0.0% beer is a promising trend, offering consumers a choice that supports moderation. While the category is emerging from a low base here, we see from markets like Spain and Germany that 0.0% drinks have a market share of over 10%.
“Based on data from Drinks Ireland|Beer members, we can see that over the last five years, the market share for 0.0 beers has grown by 325% and last year alone, volume sales increased by 25%. Brewers should be allowed to market and promote these products under the strict codes already in places, and not be targeted with unnecessary additional regulation on products that can actually support the Government and industry objective of reducing alcohol misuse.”