Beer remains Ireland’s most popular alcohol beverage with a 44.8% market share (down from 45.8%) but wine comes a firm second with a market share up marginally from 27.6% in 2016 to 27.7% last year, according to the Irish Wine Association’s annual Wine Market Report for 2017, just published.
In 2017 sales of wine grew from 9.0 million nine-litre cases to 9.1 million cases, a 0.47% increase. However the 2017 figure represents considerable growth in the wine market from the early 90s when it was selling just 1.7 million cases. This can be put down to the variety of wines out there which has “drawn the palate of the consumer”, believes the Irish Wine Association’s Chairman and Chairman of Febvre & Company Jim Bradley speaking at the launch of the report.
The wine report found white wine to be the most popular wine variant in Ireland, with a 50% share of the market. Red wine consumption fell by 2%, going from a 47% share to 45%. Meanwhile, rosé consumption increased in 2017 for the first time in over a decade, from 3% in 2016 to 5%.
According to the IWA, Irish consumers are choosing New World wines over Old World ones. The top two countries from which we source our wine are Chile, which has 27% of the market, followed by Australia with 16.7%. After this France has 12.7%, Spain 12.6% and Italy 9.4%.
The report notes that the continued growth in the economy is favourable for the wine industry but remarks that there are a number of challenges ahead including a possible excise increase in the Budget and the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which is at the final stages of the legislative process in the Oireachtas.
This represents the most immediate challenge which the wine sector is facing and the IWA has major concerns with the measure calling for a mandatory cancer warning label on all alcohol products, including wine, sold within the Republic of Ireland.
A mandatory cancer warning label on all alcohol products sold here will mean that all Irish-bound wine will have to be labelled differently and stored separately in warehouses across the world. This will add to business costs for wine importers which is likely to result in higher prices for consumers.
“This draconian measure presents a significant barrier to trade and will likely lead to less choice for consumers,” stated Jim Bradley, “The majority of our wines come from smaller houses and Ireland is a relatively small market. For these wine producers making special accommodations for a legislative requirement such as a cancer warning label makes Ireland an unviable market to export to. This measure will especially impact on smaller wine producers selling their specialist boutique wines to the Irish market.”
The IWA report also notes that Irish consumers continue to pay the highest rate of excise duty on wine in the EU, paying an excise rate of €3.19 on a standard bottle of wine while the second-highest rate in the EU can be found in Finland where consumers pay €2.54 per bottle.
In 2017, the sector paid €382 million in excise to the exchequer, an increase of €2 million from the previous year.
For sparkling wines such as Champagne, Irish consumers pay €6.37 per bottle while the UK has the second most expensive rate of €2.99. Of the 28 EU member states, 14 charge no excise duty on wine.
“Today, Irish consumers are more sophisticated when it comes to food and they’re blessed with an array of some of the world’s finest wines which are ideal for food pairing,” said Jim Bradley at the launch of the report in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel where a number of embassies from wine supplying countries were represented, “We saw wine consumption rise marginally in 2017 and the continued growth in the wider economy indicates that things remain favourable.
Wine importers and distributors based in Ireland make a significant contribution to the economy, employing over 1,100 people directly and supporting thousands of other jobs in restaurants, pubs, independent off-licences, supermarkets and hotels that sell wine.