Domestic beer consumption up 3.5%

Ireland’s per capita consumption of beer increased in 2014 but beer production itself decreased 14.4% according to The Brewers of Europe’s 2015 Beer Statistics report. We examine Ireland’s relationship with beer in this report.

Ireland produced 7.3 million hectolitres of beer in 2014 according to The Brewers of Europe which recently published the 2015 edition of its Beer Statistics. This looks at 2014’s key beer figures and trends since 2009 across the EU.

However the report indicates that beer production in Ireland has decreased 14.4% from its five-year high in 2011 of 8.5 million hectolitres.

Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association, ascribes the 2014 production figure to a drop in domestic production from the major breweries due to the overall decline in domestic consumption of alcohol, including beer.

“Another factor is the overall decline in alcohol consumption in other markets” he pointed out to Drinks Industry Ireland, “Alcohol consumption across all categories has fallen 25% since its peak in 2001 which has attributed to the drop in production.


Beer consumption

Domestically, at 4.5 million hectolitres, Ireland’s beer consumption in 2014 rose 3.5% from 2013’s 4.33 million hectolitre figure.

But this figure remains considerably down on the 2009 4.86 million hectolitres figure for beer consumption here.

In terms of per capita consumption Ireland sits in seventh place with a figure of 81 litres in 2014, two litres up on 2013’s figure of 79 litres but down from 2009’s 91 litre figure.


On-trade to off-trade beer retailing

By retail channel, Ireland takes the top spot – alongside Portugal and Spain – for the amount of beer sold through the off-trade in the Brewers of Europe’s EU31 table.

For a country with such a traditionally pub-orientated society, only 36% of beer consumption has taken place through the on-trade for the past two years.

This lies in contrast to Estonia, where 91% of beer is sold via the on-trade or Germany where the on- to off-trade channel ratio is 81%/19% or even France where the on-trade figure is 80%.

Ireland losing its on-trade grip can be charted through the years in the report which indicates that the present ratio has devolved from a former on- to off-trade ratio of 71% to 29% in 2009, 66% to 34% in 2010, 65% to 35% in 2011, 61% to 39% in 2012 and 64% to 36% in 2013.


Beer importing

Ireland imported a total of 1.3 million hectolitres of beer in 2014, putting it seventh-highest in the beer importing table. The UK topped the table, importing a total of 8.5 million hectolitres last year.

Ireland’s beer import figure was slightly up on 2013’s 1.26 million hectolitre figure but down on 2012’s 1.6 million hectolitres imported.


Beer exporting

As for beer exports, Ireland sits in ninth position exporting a total of 2.8 million hectolitres in 2014. Germany topped the export table shipping 15.4 million hectolitres.

Ireland’s 2014 export figure was well down on 2013’s 4.0 million hectolitre figure and also down on 2012’s 3.5 million hectolitre figure.

“There has been a welcome growth in the number of craft breweries exporting to other markets,” comments Jonathan McDade, “However the export value of the craft beer is quite a small  compared to the larger brewers and at the moment the export growth in craft beer exports would have little impact on the overall decline of export figures from the major brewers.

“Despite the fall in production, Ireland still produced over 700 million litres of beer last year,” he concluded, “Direct employment in the beer industry is up 8% due to the ongoing investment by the sector in Ireland and new product development while Irish beer industry exports are worth over €228 million.  I’m confident that the export figure will grow due to the growing popularity of Irish beer internationally.”


Employment in beer

Direct employment in brewing has been rising constantly since 2009 with 2,100 employed last year. This figure has been growing since 2012 when 1,500 were employed through to 2013 when 2,000 were employed.

Across Europe, the beer industry remains a key player in boosting job creation, a key pillar in the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy – and this has been spurred on by an increase in EU-wide exports which in 2014 rose to 8 billion litres, reports Brewers of Europe Secretary-General Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, stating, “The 2015 figures are very promising and once again highlight how beer and its value chain are on the road to recovery following the 2008/09 economic crisis”.

He continued, “In 2014 we saw the number of jobs directly involved in the beer industry increase by 3.9% from 2013. “This is highly significant since each of these jobs generates further jobs throughout the value chain ‘from grain to glass’ in areas such as hospitality, supply, brewing, and retail”.

There are now over 6,500 active breweries in the EU – double the number in 2008 – with around 650 more openings in 2014 alone, representing an 11% increase from 2013.

Pierre-Olivier Bergeron emphasised, however, that the success of the beer sector is still largely dependent on supportive policies to enable brewers to compete both with each other and across borders, with the need for a sustainable and supportive taxation regime for beer, a common call from brewers across the continent.

Brewers are also more than happy to play their part in promoting responsible beer consumption and in March this year, The Brewers of Europe launched a voluntary initiative to list ingredients and nutritional information for their brands, effectively implementing a scheme that is already legally required for non-alcoholic drinks.

EU Beer statistics_2015lo


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