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Alcohol consumption fell 11pc in first half of 2021 as hospitality industry remained closed


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Alcohol consumption has fallen by 11pc in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, according to figures analysed by an industry body.

Drinks Ireland has said although the decline in alcohol consumption was accelerated by the closure of the hospitality industry, it is in line with the trend of consumption falling generally in Ireland over the past 30 years.

New figures from Revenue show that alcohol consumption by volume fell by 10.8pc in the first half of 2021 (January-June), compared with the same period last year.

In comparison to 2019 figures, before the pandemic hit, alcohol consumption is down 14.1pc.

Beer and cider were the hardest hit, down by 15pc and 13pc.

Typically, around 60pc of beer sales and 45pc of cider sales are in Ireland’s pubs, restaurants, and hotels.

Consumption was down across all categories, with wine consumption down by 11.5pc and spirits down by just 0.3pc.

The figures show that overall alcohol consumption jumped from 183.5million litres for all of 2019 to 184.2million litres for all of 2020, a rise of 0.4pc.

In the first half of 2019, people in Ireland drank a total of 83.1million litres of alcohol, jumping to 84.5million litres in the first half of 2020, when the pandemic had started, a rise of 1.7pc. This compares with 74.5m litres for the first half of this year, the most recent available figures show.

A spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland said the most recent data points to a “possible readjustment in alcohol patterns”.

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He added: “Potentially, after a decade of awareness-raising of the harm from alcohol and the early impact of some provisions of the Public Health Alcohol Act, 2018, Ireland is beginning to recalibrate its alcohol use.”

However, Alcohol Action Ireland said the provisional data from Revenue demonstrates that despite significant closures imposed by the Covid-19 restrictions “alcohol sales remained quite buoyant, particularly from the retail sector where alcohol is exceptionally affordable.”

Director of Drinks Ireland Patricia Callan said: “While the decline in alcohol consumption was accelerated by Covid-19, it should be noted that it is in line with the trend of consumption falling generally in Ireland over the past 30 years.

"The average alcohol consumption in 2020 was 29.8pc lower than the peak of 2001.”

According to statistics published by the Health Research Board in April of this year, alcohol consumption in Ireland has plateaued since 2013 but it still remains significantly higher than the Government’s 2020 target.

It’s target was no more than 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person per year, however, in 2019, on average every person in Ireland aged over 15 drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol a year.

This is the equivalent of either 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 436 pints of beer.

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