Beer sales declining before Covid
In 2019 the on-trade was responsible for 62.7% of all beer sales. Ireland’s pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants sold 80% of all stout, 78% of all ale and 53% of all lager according to Drinks Ireland|Beer’s annual report.
To mark International Beer Day today Drinks Ireland|Beer has released its annual Beer Market Report 2019 which updates on the performance of the sector in 2019, just prior to the Covid crisis.
The report confirms that beer remains Ireland’s favourite drink in 2019 with a 44.6% share of the alcoholic beverage market. Lager is Ireland’s most popular beer (63.5%), followed by stout (29.3%), ale (6.2%) and non-alcoholic beer (1.0%). The latter figure represents a 40% increase in non-alcoholic beer’s share between 2018 (when it represented 0.4% of beer market) and 2019.
Today’s report found that beer exports increased in 2019 by 8.5%, reaching €305 million. The top five export markets for Irish beer last year were the UK, France, the US, Germany and Canada.
Direct employment among Drinks Ireland|Beer members was up marginally by 4% from 1,103 people to 1,147 people last year but overall, total production was marginally down by 1% between 2018 and 2019 and Drinks Ireland|Beer has said that in 2020, production will be down much more significantly across the sector as a result of Covid-19.
The trade body has said that with 62.7% of beer sold through the on-trade, the Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted the brewing sector’s contribution to the economy, adding that provisional figures from the Revenue Commissioners for 2020 show that Ireland’s beer sector has been heavily impacted by Covid-19 in terms of sales.
Urgent Government support is required for Irish pubs following this week’s announcement that they will not re-open until September at the earliest.
New provisional Revenue clearance data released last week show that beer sales fell by 17.4% in April, May and June 2020 compared to the same period last year.
The sector was already under pressure as a result of beer excise, which is the second-highest in Europe after Finland. Last year, the sector’s excise contribution to the Government was €421 million and Drinks Ireland|Beer has called for alcohol excise to be decreased in this year’s Budget to help support the sector, particularly at this challenging time.
“The Government needs to set up a taskforce that’s aimed at providing financial support for pubs that remain closed due to the Covid-19 crisis,” said Drinks Ireland|Beer Director Jonathan McDade, “With almost 50% of pubs remaining closed, a strong joined-up Government support package is a priority, to avoid mass closures.
Beer in a time of Covid-19
“Prior to the Covid crisis, 2019 was a challenging year for the sector with a decline in total beer sales and production. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures the brewing sector faces an uncertain future due to its reliance on a vibrant and active hospitality sector. If there’s no significant Government intervention, many outlets will not be in a position to re-open come September.
“Despite these challenging times, Ireland continues to love beer and it remains the nation’s favourite drink. In recent years and prior to Covid-19 we saw significant innovation in the sector, resulting in more choice than ever for Irish consumers and an increase in the popularity of non-alcoholic beer. The sector continued to make an important contribution to the economy in 2019, with €421 million in excise receipts and €305 million worth of beer exports.”