The analysis explores 2018/19 sales data in the Irish market, recent market research and international trends likely to be reflected here.
Drink Ireland’s Top 5 Trends to watch in 2020:
1. Low and No Alcohol Beer
Sales of Low and Non-Alcoholic Beer jumped by 60% in Ireland last year to 30,000 hectolitres. While final figures are yet to be established for 2019, producers expect this figure to have increased substantially again for the year.
A number of producers have released low- and non-alcoholic brands to meet the growing trend of health and wellbeing, with many consumers cutting back on their drinking.
Looking internationally, we see that in the UK sales of low and alcohol-free beers jumped 28% in the year to February 2019 compared with the previous 12 months.
Beer is Ireland’s most popular drink and in Spain, where beer is also popular, non-alcoholic beer now accounts for around 12% of the overall beer market.
According to Drinks Ireland, there’s still considerable room for low and non-alcoholic beer growth in 2020 to meet rising consumer demand.
2. High spirits for Irish whiskey and gin producers as consumers go Premium
Irish consumers are increasingly choosing Premium spirits including Irish whiskey and gin, with more choice than ever on the market.
Provisional figures from Revenue show that sales of spirits increased by 1.1% in Ireland in the first three quarters of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018.
Irish gin has been the one to watch in the past two years and remains the fastest-growing spirit sector in Ireland.
Gin sales soared here last year, up by 31.8% between 2017 and 2018.
As the market matures, it’s anticipated that the number of new gin players in the Irish market will decrease in 2020. However, consumer demand is expected to remain steady – and probably grow.
Irish whiskey is the second most popular spirit in Ireland, with a 25.1% share of the market.
It’s also increasing in popularity and sales increased by 5.4% between 2017 and 2018.
3. Consumers choosing quality over quantity as they drink less
While diversity in the Irish drinks market is rife, the long-term trend shows that people are actually drinking less.
Since 2001, average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland according to CSO and Revenue Commissioner Data.
This is line with the trend towards health and wellbeing and the increase in demand for Premium drinks products.
4. Love for the homegrown as consumers buy Irish
Research from Bord Bia shows that Irish consumers love authenticity and locally-sourced food and drinks products and this trend is on the rise.
Consumers are seen to value local food and drink because of benefits such as supporting the local economy and transparency together with the sustainable aspect of buying from local producers.
We have seen a recent surge in Irish whiskey distilleries, Irish gin and Poitin brands and Irish craft beer products all meeting this demand.
But Irish homegrown cider is also one to watch in 2020 as the popularity of cider is on the up.
The most recent data shows that 75% of all cider consumed in Ireland was made in Ireland.
5. Irish consumers to be offered more drinking experiences
Ireland tends to follow London when it comes to a number of drinks trends including those in the hospitality industry, according to Drinks Ireland.
From, ‘cocktail escapism’, which allows for total immersion in a sort of sensory chamber where you drink unidentified cocktails, to ‘around the globe’ drinks experiences, London is at the forefront of an exciting and diverse drinks hospitality sector.
We’re beginning to see this emerge in Ireland with more consideration being given to a consumer’s overall drinks experience.
Again, this is in line with a general move towards consumers being more considerate about how much and indeed how, they drink.
According to Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “Ireland has a long and proud history of brewing, distilling and cider production, but there’s never been a more exciting time for Ireland’s drinks industry.
“The growth and change has been driven by the industry’s ability to innovate in order to respond to consumer demands at home and abroad. Ultimately we see that consumers at home are choosing ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’ which is certainly positive for our industry.
“And demand for Irish drinks products, particularly spirits, is on the up in export markets, with the sector selling €1.4 billion-worth of Irish drinks products in over 140 markets.”
She also warned that there are a number of challenges ahead for the industry including US tariffs, Brexit and continuing high excise rates.