As a result, the Irish Brewers Association (IBA) has called on the licensed trade to be vigilant and to take steps to prevent the theft of kegs from their premises.
IBA Senior Executive Stephen Lynam explained that a new keg can cost up €100 but stolen kegs are being advertised for sale in local media and on the internet, often in batches of 100 or more, at values as low as €5 each.
“The IBA believes that about 100,000 kegs belonging to our members went missing last year,” he commented, “We have reason to believe that the trade in such kegs is not opportunistic but part of the activities of organised criminals given that metal theft is a problem across the economy.”
Everything from radiators to artistic installations at the side of motorways are going missing and this phenomenon is increasing in the midst of the economic downturn and deep recession, he stated.
“For every keg stolen the cost of providing beer to publicans in this country increases and damages the profitability of breweries and beer companies.
“The issue is not a new one, but my members inform me that the problem has worsened in the last 18 months and is prevalent on both sides of the border. This is as a result of metal prices and greater demand for kegs in other markets.
“We believe that in the medium term, the threat of supply chain interruption exists. IBA member companies are already examining their own practices to ensure the risk of theft is reduced.
“In order to combat the problem, beer companies are asking publicans for their part to hold empty kegs in a secure location prior to collection, report stolen kegs to the Gardai and to their suppliers and to inform suppliers as soon as possible if kegs remain uncollected.”