400,000 kegs missing over six years at cost of €40m
Enough beer kegs to stretch the 210km from Dublin to Galway have gone missing or been stolen in Ireland since 2007.
The Irish Brewers' Association (IBA) said the 400,000 kegs that have vanished in the past six years or so were worth €40m and it has asked publicans and hoteliers to keep an eye out for potential thieves.
Each keg, made of stainless steel, costs about €100 to replace, according to the IBA. Even as scrap metal, the kegs are a valuable target.
With the standard keg big enough to hold 50 litres, or about 88 pints, and standing just over half-a-metre high, the missing containers would be long enough joined end to end to reach from the capital to Galway.
"Metal theft has emerged as a worrying issue since 2007, costing the Irish economy millions of euro every year," said Thomas Burke, senior executive with the IBA. "For the brewing sector, keg theft continues to be a serious problem and is hindering our ability to meet customer requirements."
The number of missing kegs was estimated using figures from Guinness maker Diageo, Heineken Ireland, Richmond Marketing (which distributes Miller), Molson Coors and Bulmers maker C&C.
"For every keg stolen the cost of providing beer and cider to publicans in this country increases and damages the profitability of breweries," he claimed. "We believe that it is in our shared interest to protect our industry from keg theft."
He said that the IBA was working with the Garda Metal Forum in an effort to address the problem and that a number of proposed measures had been developed. A number of civil and criminal cases have already been taken in relation to keg theft, said Mr Burke.