Brewers lift glass to beer but call for excise to be cut
Ireland's beer exports are worth almost €228m a year, and account for 19pc of all beverage exports from the country, according to the Irish Brewers' Association (IBA).
THE IBA has released its annual report to coincide with International Beer Day, which is marked today from Auckland to Liverpool.
The association said that while production of beer for export from Ireland fell 14pc between 2013 and 2014, the beer industry remains a "major" success story.
It pointed out that over 700m litres of beer were produced in Ireland during 2014.
The IBA also notes that consumption of beer in Ireland rose 4pc year-on-year in 2014 - the first time that beer consumption has increased here since 2005.
Beer remains the drinkers' tipple of choice, accounting for 47pc of alcohol consumed last year, according to the industry body.
There's been a surge in the number of craft brewers and whiskey distilleries established in Ireland over the past few years. The success of entrepreneurs such as John Teeling in establishing and ultimately selling a distillery venture to a US corporate undoubtedly went a long way to prompting others to attempt to follow suit.
The increasing interest in the craft beer sector has also been helped by the hosting in Dublin of the annual international Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair. Alltech is owned by Irishman Pearse Lyons, a former Irish Distillers employee. The group - with interests that include animal nutrition - has also established a distillery in Carlow.
Ireland's craft brewery sector has grown in recent years, but it still makes up just 1.2pc of the entire beer market. But 40pc of microbreweries export.
However, high excise rates here continue to weigh on the beer sector, according to the Irish Brewers' Association.
Unsurprisingly, it wants the Government to cut the rate, which it says is the third highest in the European Union and 11.4 times higher than the rate on beer in Germany.
"In order to maintain the success story of the Irish beer market, the Government must reverse excise on alcohol in the next Budget," claimed IBA chief Jonathan McDade.
"Beer was hit with a 42pc excise increase over the past three years, making our beer excise the third highest in the EU," he said. "In the UK, 26,000 jobs have been created since 2013, due to a cut in beer duty. The potential for Ireland's brewing industry is massive if excise is reversed."
The IBA said that excise on beer generated €425m for the Exchequer last year, compared to €358m in 2013 and €308m in 2012.
Mr McDade added that direct employment in Ireland's brewing industry has been increasing as the economy recovers, and rose 9.5pc to 2,119 in 2014.
"We know that the industry also supports thousands more jobs indirectly, including approximately 4,000 agricultural jobs," he said.