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Irish pub (Photo by Leonhard Niederwimmer on Unsplash)
29 April 2021

Irish beer consumption down 17 percent in 2020

Ireland | Covid-19 has significantly impacted the drinks industry, as a result of the closure of the hospitality sector. Per capita alcohol consumption declined by 6.6 percent last year.

The beer and cider categories were hit hardest, as both are predominantly consumed in pubs. Beer consumption dropped 17 percent last year, while cider consumption fell by 11 percent in 2020.

This counters the popular myth that alcohol consumption increased during lockdown, said Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland.

Consumption levels deemed too high

Health advocates were still not pleased. On average, every person in Ireland aged 15 and over drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol last year – thus missing the government’s 2020 target of no more than 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. As one in four people in Ireland does not drink at all, actual consumption rates could be much higher than this. Moreover, the decline in overall alcohol consumption is relatively small, considering that pubs were closed for most of the year.

Pubs still under lockdown

What the beer consumption decline means for brewers’ revenues and profits can only be fathomed. Typically, just over 60 percent of beer sales take place in pubs, restaurants, and hotels. However, in 2020 just below 30 percent of beer were consumed in the hospitality sector.

Making matters worse still, a new report on the drinks industry found that the value of beer exports declined by 17 percent in 2020, from EUR 305 million to EUR 254 million (USD 307 million). The most significant fall was in exports to the US, down by 45 percent

The Irish Beer Market Report 2020, compiled on behalf of Drinks Ireland, showed that beer production levels dropped by almost 14 percent in the year.

Jonathan McDade, Head of Drinks Ireland|Beer, said that as the vaccine roll-out continues, the beer sector hopes to be able to see consumers back in pubs later this year.

However, at present, there is no plan or definitive date for pubs and restaurants to reopen in Ireland.