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Bar closures hit Irish alcohol consumption

Total alcohol consumption in Ireland declined by 4.7% in 2021 due to on-trade restrictions, new data has revealed.

Ireland’s on-trade was hit with the longest lockdowns in Europe, according to Drinks Ireland last year

By Nicola Carruthers

According to data from Irish tax and customs authority Revenue, cited by trade body Drinks Ireland, alcohol consumption in the country fell by 9.6% between 2019 and 2021.

Drinks Ireland said the decline highlighted the impact of Covid-related restrictions and closures on the hospitality sector, as well as the trend of consumers drinking less over the past two decades.

In December last year, a report by Drinks Ireland revealed that coronavirus lockdowns in the country were ‘by far the longest’ in Europe for the on-trade.

Between 2019 and 2021, the trade group said spirits consumption remained fairly stagnant with a 1.9% increase. It was the only alcohol category to report growth.

Beer and cider consumption witnessed the biggest drops due to their popularity in the on-trade, Drinks Ireland noted. Beer consumption declined by 18.3% between 2019 and 2021 and cider was down by 15.1% during the same period.

Wine consumption decreased by 13.1% in 2021 and dipped by 2.7% over the last two years.

Patricia Callan, director of Drinks Ireland, said: “This latest data shows the continued decline in alcohol consumption in Ireland, exacerbated by the pandemic. Alcohol consumption is now at its lowest level in 20 years, down by about 30% since the peak of 2001.

“The industry has worked hard to continue to tackle alcohol misuse. The growing trend we see at home and in other established international markets is people choosing to drink quality over quantity, which we welcome and will continue to encourage.”

Exports of Irish alcoholic drinks grew by 19% last year, led by the strong rebound of Irish whiskey, according to a Bord Bia report.

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