Sales of food and drink in military barracks are continuing to fall, despite prices being heavily subsidised.
New figures show that sales in the 45 bars and canteens operated by the Defence Forces fell by 6.3% in 2016 to just under €1.84m — down by more than €123,000 on the previous year.
Turnover at messes for officers, NCOs and privates has been on a sharp downward trend since the early 2000s when annual sales of more than €5m were recorded.
Profit levels also dipped in 2016 – down 2.9% to €501,653.
The Defence Forces Canteen Board which operates financial control of the bars and canteens said the 27% gross profit rate as a percentage of sales is “satisfactory.”
The Department of Defence also provided a grant of €55,532 to the board in 2016 towards the cost of retirement of one employee.
A significant reduction in operating expenses allowed the DFCB to post a net surplus of €10,451 in 2016 after recording a net deficit of almost €25,000 the previous year.
It followed the return of almost €368,000 in profit to the individual bars and canteens.
The DFCB said its cash reserves at the end of 2016 had increased to just under €35,000 while its net assets have also increased in value to a similar amount.
Messes for private soldiers were informally established in 1990 as a result of the report of the Gleeson Commission on pay and conditions in the Defence Forces and put on a formal footing in 1997.
Since 1999, the board has supervisory and financial control over all messes for officers, NCOs and privates in military bases around the country.
Around 20 messes have been shut down in the past 15 years, while four dry canteens were closed in 2013 due to falling sales.
According to the Defence Forces, messes are not public premises but civilians may attend as guests of Defence Forces personnel.
Alcohol prices were increased in military barracks last year as a result of price hikes by drinks suppliers in June.
The price of a pint of Guinness and Heineken was increased by 10 cent to €3.10.
The price of a bottle of Budweiser and Miller also increased by the same margin to €2.30 and €2.40 respectively.
A measure of 12-year-old Jameson 1780 costs €3.80 in military barracks following a 50 cent increase.
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