/ 10th May 2022 /
The continued closure of hospitality venues domestically and in key international markets resulted in another challenging year for Irish brewers in 2021 with alcohol consumption down, according to a new report.
The annual Irish Beer Market Report from Drinks Ireland|Beer shows that the pandemic resulted in a 46% fall in production between 2020 and 2021, with sales down by 1.3% and per capita consumption down by 2.3%.
Overall alcohol consumption continues to decline dramatically in Ireland.
Revenue data shows that alcohol consumption fell by 4.7% between 2020 and 2021, and declined by 9.6% between 2019 and 2021.
On a longer-term basis, alcohol consumption is at its lowest level in 20 years, down by about 30% since the peak of 2001.
The value of beer exports fell by 3% last year but were still significant at €246m. The most popular destination for Irish beer was Great Britain, with the United States in second place.
According to the report, pre-Covid around 30% of beer consumed in Ireland was stout. This fell to 25.3% in 2020 and recovered to 32.2% last year.
Lager, which was more popular during Covid as it was consumed at home, saw its market share fall last year by eight points while ale’s market share improved by one point.
Non-alcoholic beer market share rose from 1.1% in 2020 to 1.5% in 2021. For context, non-alcoholic beer’s market share was 0.4% in 2017.
Beer production fell sharply in the Republic last year, down 46 per cent on 2020, according to figures released by the employers’ lobby group, Ibec. The numbers employed in the sector also fell by a fifth.
The group’s Drinks Ireland|Beer division suggests the fall in production was due to a drop in demand following the tough anti-virus restrictions on the hospitality sector that were in place for large parts of 2021. Its Beer Market report says about 60 per cent of beer typically is consumed in pubs, but that fell to 29 per cent in 2020 before recovering somewhat to 46 per cent in 2021.
The production dip in 2021 followed a fall of 13 per cent the previous year.
While total beer sales fell by 1.2 per cent last year compared with 2020, and consumption per person fell 2.3 per cent, the sector began to stage a clear recovery in the second half of 2021 as the on-trade reopened and trends for home consumption began to moderate.
Figures provided in the Drinks Ireland|Beer report suggest sales volumes were at pre-pandemic levels during the third quarter of 2021.
More than 32 per cent of all beer sold in the Irish market last year was stout, a return to pre-pandemic normality. Stout’s share had dipped to about 25 per cent in 2020, when pubs were largely closed for chunks of the year. Lager sales, which spiked during periods of lockdown, fell back significantly in 2021.
Non-alcoholic beer sales were just 1.5 per cent of the total, although the proportion is four times larger than it was just four years ago.
The value of beer exports fell 3 per cent last year to €246 million, according to the Ibec report. Britain followed by the US is the biggest export market for beer produced in Ireland. Sales from the beer category contributed about €351 million in exchequer receipts.