The Irish cider industry celebrated a year of resurgence in 2022 as bars and restaurants fully reopened, but exports declined and significant challenges remain for the sector, according to a new report by Ibec trade association Drinks Ireland | Cider.
Like beer, the cider category benefitted greatly from the full reopening of domestic hospitality, as a much higher proportion of their sales rely on the on-trade channel compared to other categories like spirits and wine.
Overall, domestic cider sales grew by 3.9% in 2022 compared to 2021. The total share of the alcohol market held by cider grew by 13.8% to reach 6.6% of sales. These markers of growth, though promising, are yet to fully recover to the pre-pandemic levels as the sale increase remains 12% below pre-pandemic levels and the share of the market was 7.4% in 2019. Cider consumption per capita also rose by 1.8% in 2022.
The report also notes that there is a growing trend of premiumisation in the cider market, presenting an opportunity for the craft cider sector. A recent report on the craft cider market by Bord Bia, in collaboration with Drinks Ireland, highlights the growing craft cider category that offers consumers an array of choices and exciting innovations.
The report also shows that the estimated value of cider exports stood at €73.49 million in 2022, representing a decline of 5.6% from the previous year. This decrease can be attributed to the exceptional export growth experienced in 2021, driven by new market opportunities and the reopening of off-trade channels in key export markets. The United Kingdom remains the most popular export destination for Irish cider, followed by the Netherlands and the United States.
Considering the significant challenges still facing the industry and the prevalence of smaller producers, the sector is calling on government to reduce the excise on alcohol in the forthcoming Budget 2024.
To support craft cider makers in particular, Drinks Ireland | Cider said that the 50% relief from Alcohol Products Tax (APT) for cider and perry produced by qualifying small producers that was introduced in Budget 2023 should also be extended to qualifying small producers of products such as fruit-flavoured ciders and intermediate products linked to the category. This expansion of the programme would encourage new entrants into the cider market and support those existing small businesses as they grow and develop.
Speaking on the report Cormac Healy, director of Drinks Ireland said: “Growth in the craft cider category brings great choice for consumers and exciting innovations. Apart from seeking a reduction in overall excise rates in alcohol, which are the second highest in Europe, we believe that the craft cider sector would benefit from some modest extensions of the excise relief.
The small craft cider producers play a pivotal role in the category, contributing to the diversity and innovation that enrich the Irish drinks landscape and contribute to rural economic growth. This entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged.
The overall Irish cider industry remains resilient and adaptable, and with the right support, it can continue to flourish and contribute to the vibrant landscape of Ireland’s beverage sector.”