Irish drinking less beer but tax figures still exceeds €1bn
Irish people drank less beer in 2015, resuming a decade-long trend of moderation by consumers which was briefly interrupted in 2014, according to a new survey.
The latest report from the Irish Brewers Association reveals that the Exchequer took a total of €1.13bn in revenues from alcohol excise last year.
Beer remains the greatest source of income for the Government, with the exchequer hauling in €417m in 2015.
Wine contributed €355m to the national coffers, an identical amount to that recouped in 2014.
Tax on spirits contributed €311m, while cider receipts lagged well behind with just €54m taken in excise duty.
The 'Irish Beer 2015' report showed that consumption of beer dropped by 2.5pc last year, but recorded an increase in production of 6pc.
The rise in output last year was the first annual increase in the country since 2011.
Beer exports showed an annual increase of 16pc, and are valued at over €265m.
That represents 21pc of Ireland's entire beverage export total.
The survey showed that 43pc of beer produced here is sent abroad.
Overall, the Irish craft beer sector accounted for just 2pc of total production volumes in 2015, a rise of 0.8pc on 2014.
Beer in Ireland remains consumers' tipple of choice, with a 47pc market share - a figure which has remained unchanged for the past five years.
Stout now accounts for just 33.4pc of the overall consumption of beers, while ale accounted for 6.2pc.
In a wider context, wine represented 27.7pc of the total market share.
Spirits accounted for 18.7pc, while cider accounted for just 6.6pc of the overall market.
The number of people employed in the craft beer industry rose marginally to 1,170.
Irish people were found to be the eighth largest consumers of beer in Europe, with the Czech Republic and Germany found to be the countries that drink most.
On average, Irish people drank 79.9 litres of beer per capita over the course of 2015. That shows another decline in Irish drinking habits, with the figure for 2014 standing at 81.6 litres, a decline of 2.5pc.
The survey showed that UK citizens were the lowest consumers of beer, with an average of 69 pints consumed per annum, along with The Netherlands.
Jonathan McDade, head of the Irish Brewers Association said: "Irish consumers pay the third highest rates of excise on beer in the European Union, eleven times greater than beer drinkers in Germany.
"Excise is a tax on jobs, tourism and the hospitality sector and we call on the Government to reduce excise on Ireland's hard pressed consumers."
Last December the Government released a Public Health (Alcohol) bill, aimed at reducing the damage that alcohol causes to individuals and to society in Ireland.
The goal of the bill is to reduce average annual alcohol consumption in Ireland.
The bill has been the subject of scrutiny at EU level because of the intention to instigate minimum-unit pricing.
Health Minister Simon Harris has indicated he is willing to defend the bill to fellow health ministers across the continent in a bid to ensure that Irish people reduce their overall alcohol intake.
"Alcohol abuse is a serious issue for Ireland and we must deal with it," Mr Harris told the Irish Independent.