A new report shows that consumption of beer declined in Ireland by 2.1% since 2017, while that of Irish craft beer rose by 13.5%. There was also an increase in market share of the 79 independent microbreweries that are currently in operation in the Republic of Ireland, as consumption of craft beer rose from 2.9% in 2017 to 3.4% in 2022.
In recent years consumers have embraced independent beverage options. There are currently 12 craft cider producers in Ireland, and craft cider production accounts for 2.2% of total domestic cider consumption. Highlighting the importance of local business, Irish cider producers generated over 50% of sales within 50 kilometres of the producers’ premises. On average 52.9% of apples and pears used in craft products are sourced from the producers’ own orchard.
Michael Jacob, drinks sector manager at Bord Bia, said: “We’re delighted to launch the craft beer and cider report for 2023. Overall its shown positive growth within the craft sector, within both cider and beer, which we’re really pleased to see. We want to continue to support our client companies in growth of the sector, both nationally and internationally. For us its fantastic to see the focus on sustainability in both sectors as well.”
Beyond Ireland’s shores there is plenty of room for growth. Export market performance has almost doubled since 2017. It was reported that 60,300 hectolitres of craft beer were exported in 2022 compared with 30,500 hectolitres in 2017. France, Italy and the UK were identified as the most high-potential markets. Half of microbrewers do not currently export, but two-thirds of these intend to export in the next three years.
James Dunne, board director at Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland and Operations Director at Galway Bay Brewery, said: “It’s reassuring that the craft beer market is growing albeit at a low rate. It’s also reassuring that we see that exports are growing strongly and that’s a key focus for Irish craft beer companies. In particular, the focus on the green economy and sustainability is always key for exports.”
Jennifer Wallace of Drinks Ireland commented: “Growth in the craft beer and cider categories brings great choice for consumers and exciting innovations. These businesses, spread throughout the country, are important local employers and catalysts of economic activity in their locality. Many too are developing their tourism offering”.
Brewers have commented that by far the most common challenge in the sector was in the on-trade by difficulties in gaining access to taps. There is also appetite to improve sustainability across sectors, with common top priority focus being on reduction of energy usage across both cider and beer producers. Over 90% of microbrewers consider sustainability as extremely or very important to their company. Four of the seven craft cider producers in Ireland rated sustainability as being extremely important to their company, with the remaining three producers considering it very important.
The Craft Beer and Cider Report was completed by Bernard Feeney on behalf of Bord Bia in collaboration with Drinks Ireland and the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland (ICBI). The Craft Beer and Craft Cider Report is available to access on the Bord Bia website. To read more visit www.bordbia.ie/industry/