Drinks industry urges excises rethink

Increasing excise duties continue to put at risk an industry which directly employs 63,000 and supports a further 30,000 jobs, contributing €2bn to the exchequer.

Drinks industry urges excises rethink

The economic and social contributions of the drinks industry were stoutly highlighted yesterday.

Brewers, pubs, restaurants, off-licences, and hotels came together in a new campaign, ‘Support Your Local’, focusing on the positive role of the drinks industry.

However, in a regional campaign which will coincide with the Europe and local elections, the industry also plans to hammer home to politicians a message about rising excise charges.

DCU Business School economist Tony Foley drew up the report. He said: “If the Government continues to tax the industry extensively, it’s not only pubs, restaurants, hotels, and others that will lose out — but also the barley farmer, the freight services, and many other providers to the drinks industry.”

He said the campaign demonstrates that the industry is not only a significant economic asset nationally, but a major local resource.

Under the umbrella of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, the campaign says the industry employs 92,000 people, purchases €1.1bn worth of Irish products, and has a turnover of €3bn, with €2bn in taxes.

Mr Foley’s report, entitled Drinks-Related Employment in Dáil Constituencies, shows that there are 8,298 public houses and almost 1,700 full off-licences.

In addition to the large brewers and distillers, there are 25 craft or micro-breweries, and 15 new distilleries are also being developed.

Mr Foley said the drinks industry directly provides 63,000 full- or part-time jobs with a wage bill of €885m, and purchases over €1bn of Irish agricultural product, other materials, and services inputs.

“These purchases support about 11,600 jobs,” said Mr Foley. “The direct and indirect employment total of 74,600 supports an additional 17,500 jobs leading to the industry supporting over 92,000 jobs.”

Campaign manager Bart Storan said: “When we say ‘Support Your Local’, we are taking about supporting your local farmer, supporting your local distillery, supporting your local pub, restaurant, hotel, or independent off-licence, and supporting your local community.

“The campaign will be bringing the message about the positive role that the industry plays in Ireland around the country. We will be asking people to support an industry that is a proud part of our history — but which is also an exciting part of our future.”

Eugene Ryan, a barley farmer from, Stradbally, Co Laois, said that without the likes of Guinness buying local products, his family business, which is already facing a difficult situation, would be made impossible. “The improvements I am making on my farm allow me to be competitive in a tight market and I look forward to supplying grain to a vibrant drinks industry in this country for many years to come,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an industry statement, the group said it has sought to work with the Government to address misuse of alcohol.

It wants the Government to tackle the sale of cheap alcohol, bring in a statutory ban on price-based advertising, and introduce statutory codes to regulate the merchandising of alcohol.

Currently, about 40% to 50% of alcohol is sold by supermarkets, with the multiples securing 60% to 80% of that market.

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