While the rolling Lockdowns in hospitality during the course of the pandemic may have increased cider purchases in the retail sector, these have not been enough to offset the loss of cider sales in pubs, restaurants and hotels according to Drinks Ireland|Cider which today published its Irish Cider Market Report for 2020.
Jonathan McDade, Head of Drinks Ireland|Cider explained, “While cider consumers reconfigured their drinking habits last year with a shift to retail, the on-trade is critically important for the sector.”
Market share falls
Unsurprisingly perhaps, cider’s market share of the overall alcohol market fell from 7.4% in 2019 to 6.9% last year, reflecting an 11.3% fall in total cider sales value to just under €520 million last year.
Per capita cider consumption has fallen too, by 23% since 2011 and it fell by a further 11.4% last year.
In addition, cider exports saw a decline of 2.7% to €58.2 million last year, down from €60.9 million in 2019.
But cider imports were up by 17% from €12.1 million in 2019 to €14.2 million in 2020.
The UK is responsible for 90% of cider exports (€52.3 million by value) and about 70% of cider imports (worth €9.9 million) while 15% of cider imports come from Belgium (€2.1 million).
With about 29% of the price of a pint of cider going to excise and VAT, over €53 million was collected in excise receipts last year, an 11% fall on 2019’s €59.8 million.
Drinks Ireland|Cider is therefore calling on the government for financial aid to support covering the costs associated with the uplift of kegged cider during the Lockdowns.
Brewers that produce less than 50,000 hectolitres of beer per annum get a 50% reduction on excise payments to the Exchequer. Until 2020 the EU Structures Directive on Excise only permitted excise relief for brewers. This has now been extended to small producers of fermented beverages like cider and so Drinks Ireland|Cider is now calling for the introduction of an excise relief programme for small cider producers similar to the one enjoyed by craft brewers.
The report also points out that Ireland has the third-highest excise rate on cider in Europe after Finland and Sweden.
“The Irish cider industry has had a challenging year and any assistance from the Government would be welcome,” said Drinks Ireland|Cider’s Chairman Seamus O’Hara who’s also Founder and Chief Executive of Carlow Brewing Company which produces Falling Apple and Craigies Cider, “The excise relief programme for Ireland’s craft brewers saw the number of breweries increase from three to 75 in the space of a decade. Extending this programme to craft cider producers could result in further growth in the sector, which will ultimately benefit the consumer with more choice.”