Irish beer exports rise, but earnings fall

A report from the Irish Brewers Association has shown that beer exports went up slightly by 0.2%, but earnings from sales reduced from €280m in 2016 to €273m last year.

However, Irish beer sales abroad are still up on the 2014 level which stood at €228m.

Meanwhile, the consumption of beer in Ireland fell between 2016 and 2017, according to the Irish Beer Market Report 2017 released today, with most Irish beer exports going to the UK.

This is followed by the United States, France, Canada and Germany.

The report also found that Ireland has around 100 microbreweries in operation.

Production in the craft beer sector grew from 86,000 hectolitres in 2014 to an estimated 238,000 hectolitres in 2017 - a 177% production growth in just four years.

Lager is the most popular type of beer, followed by stout and then ale.

The report found that Ireland’s on-trade beer sales continue to outperform off-trade sales by 64.8% to 35.2%. The report notes that no other country in the European Union has a higher percentage of on-trade versus off-trade beer sales.

Alcohol consumption in Ireland has fallen by 25% since 2005, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Also, the latest ESPAD report, showed a significant decline in underage alcohol consumption, with Ireland moving from 8th to 28th out of 33 countries analysed over the course of the study.

Despite a fall in consumption, beer remains Ireland’s favourite alcohol beverage, accounting for just under 45% market share of all alcohol consumed in 2017.

In 2017, the excise rate on beer in Ireland was the second highest European Union and the IBA is calling on the Government to reduce excise to benefit both the industry and consumers.

Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association (IBA) said: “Beer is a significant economic and cultural asset in Ireland.

"Beer drinkers in Ireland must endure the second highest rate of excise tax in the EU and so I call on the Government to reduce the rate of excise on beer in Budget 2019.”

Irish beer producers also warned that the labelling measures in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, specifically the requirement to add cancer warning labels to alcohol products, could impact future growth and called on the Government to make reasonable amendments to the legislation.

Mr McDade said: “In relation to the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, we are calling on the Government to remove the requirement for cancer warnings on alcohol products, as it is a disproportionate measure that represents a barrier to trade in the EU amidst Brexit uncertainty.

"Irish beer producers will be required to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere, which will impact on their ability to export.

“It could also impact the growth of Ireland’s craft beer sector. It is anticipated that it will cost approximately €50,000 to redesign an entire suite of labelling for a single product line and additional stock control costs will also arise. Smaller producers will be impacted significantly as they will be less able to absorb costs."

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