Beer production in Ireland has fallen by almost 50% in 2021 as alcohol consumption drops dramatically

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Beer production in Ireland fell by almost 50% last year due to shutdowns resulting from closures.

The statistics were published in Drinks Ireland|Beer’s annual Irish beer market report on Tuesday 10 May.

Production fell by 46% between 2020 and 2021, with sales down 1.3% and consumption per capita down 2.3%.

Drinks Ireland said “overall alcohol consumption continues to fall dramatically in Ireland”.

The decline was attributed to the closure of hospitality venues in Ireland and overseas.

Beer producers are now calling on the government to scrap alcohol excise duties when drawing up this year’s budget.

The industry is recovering, but external pressures such as inflation could have a significant impact on the beer industry.

Irish excise duty on beer is the second highest in the European Union.

“Today’s report illustrates the significant impact the pandemic has continued to have on Irish brewers over the past year, with production particularly affected,” said Peter Mosley, chief executive of Porterhouse Brewing Company and Chairman of Drinks Ireland|Beer.

“There were some signs of an early recovery as consumers returned to the restaurant sector in the second half of the year.

“Before Covid, just over 60% of beer sales were in Irish pubs, restaurants and hotels. In 2020, an estimated 29% of beer sales came from the hospitality sector, but this figure rose to 46% in 2021.

“Irish brewers are now focused on returning to growth, driven by strong industry innovation from established and emerging players.

“We’ve seen some interesting trends in recent years, such as the growth of non-alcoholic beer, which we plan to continue.”

The beer most affected by the pandemic was stout, with sales down 30% to 25.3% between 2019 and 2020.

Non-alcoholic beer is also growing in popularity, with 1.5% of all sales in 2021 coming from non-alcoholic alternatives.

Five years ago, non-alcoholic beer accounted for just 0.4% of sales.

Drinks Ireland|Beer director Jonathan McDade said the reduction in excise duty on beer in this year’s budget would allow “more investment and innovation in the sector”.

“After two of the toughest years for the beer industry and the continuing problem of spiraling business costs, we are calling for a reduction in excise duty in this year’s budget,” McDade said.

“It would also benefit struggling consumers facing mounting cost of living pressures.”

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