According to figures produced by DCU Economist Tony Foley 2020’s annual average per adult consumption is now close to 10 LPA compared with the previous four years when it was closer to 11 LPA.
“By long term comparison, it was around 11 LPA in 1994 and peaked at 14.44 LPA in 2001.
“Since 2001 the average per adult alcohol consumption has declined by 29.8%,” he states.
Wine was the main alcohol category to benefit from the Covid-19 Lockdown in terms of sales since the vast majority of it is purchased in the off-trade for home consumption.
Over the course of the year wine consumption grew 12% to 103.6 million litres from 2019’s 92.5 million litre figure. This produced a boost for the Exchequer with net excise receipts for wine rising 12% to €424.8 million from €377.9 million in 2019.
Spirits consumption, too, showed growth, up 0.7% to 8.9 million litres. This was reflected in the Exchequer returns on spirits which grew by 0.2% to €374.3 million last year from €373.4 million in 2019.
Tony Foley’s Revenue consumption calculations point out that, “Consumption is equated with clearances as is normally done in estimates such as these, although clearances are not an exact measure of consumption due to factors such as unrecorded out of state sourcing, stock changes and the effects of outward and inward tourism”.
Beer and cider down
The story for beer and cider was not so encouraging however with Lockdown spelling a closed down on-trade which is responsible for 62.7% of beer sales here.
Beer consumption was down 17.3% to 15.7 million litres of pure alcohol compared to 2019’s figure of 18.9 million litres of pure alcohol. At €351.1 million, Revenue took in 17% less on beer in 2020 as a result.
Cider, too, saw consumption drop 11.4% to 56 million litres of pure alcohol with net excise receipts declining by 11% to €53.1 million from €59.8 million in 2019.
The nearest to a like-for-like comparison of these four sectors would be Q1 of 2020, even ‘though the on-trade shut down half-way through March.
Quarter 1 showed beer and cider consumption down 8.5% and 3.4% respectively.
Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan summarised the Revenue figures.
“There is a growing and misleading narrative that alcohol consumption increased last year during lockdown,” she commented, “These Revenue figures show that this is simply not true. While off-trade sales predictably increased when the on-trade was closed, this was not enough to offset the overall fall in alcohol consumption across the board.”