Monday 14 October 2019

Lager the tipple of choice over a pint of porter

Stock pic of lads having pints together
Stock pic of lads having pints together
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

When it comes to our drinking habits, it appears we are reluctant as a nation to stray from the old reliables.

However, by default we opt for a foreign beer over a pint of plain and a Russian vodka ahead of an Irish whiskey, according to new research. The findings show Bulmers cider is also more popular among consumers than Guinness.

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An analysis of the top-selling alcohol brands by Checkout, a retail trade magazine, shows Heineken is the country's favourite tipple.

Smirnoff vodka is the bestselling spirit and the second most popular alcoholic beverage overall. Budweiser is the third most popular drink to feature in the Top 50 Alcohol Brands list.

The survey, carried out in association with Nielsen, uses data from major supermarkets, shops and independent or specialist off-licences to understand Irish drinking habits.

Options from the Netherlands, Russia and the US are shown to be more commonly bought than the most popular Irish brands.

Bulmers is Ireland's favourite Irish drink and ranks fourth on the overall list, followed by Guinness (fifth) and Jameson whiskey (sixth).

The bestselling wine on the list, Santa Rita, comes in as the eighth most popular drink, just behind another beer, Coors. Carlsberg lager (ninth) and Huzzar vodka complete the top 10 list.

Consumers' Association of Ireland policy and council adviser Dermott Jewell said these brands have made up the top 10 over the past five years, suggesting Irish customers were deeply wedded to their drink of choice. He said consumers were settled in their attitudes to brands.

"If you are looking at Guinness for example, there is a high appreciation of it. People travel to Ireland to try Guinness so that is always going to be towards the top. So too is Heineken and these brands have long been the drink of choice for people. It may even have been their first drink and they maintained that choice.

"Consumers will try something else on occasion but seem to come back to the one they started with or tried first or was the first one they liked.

"I don't see the choices changing because historically, variations of the originals have been tried but usually failed. People are very set in their ways."

Last month, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed duty-free shopping would return in the event of a hard Brexit for people travelling from Ireland to the UK.

Mr Jewell said this was the only area that may disrupt drink choices.

The UK government has confirmed duty free will also apply to travellers coming from Britain to Ireland.

Duty-free shopping will only apply in ports and airports so will not affect travellers crossing the border with Northern Ireland.

"The only thing in the distance that is going to be worrying, dangerous and interesting to watch is what is going to happen to the rate of sterling and what happens when the potential of duty free kicks in. It is hard to predict how that will change the market."

He said value was also a crucial factor for consumers.

"The reality of life is drinking in the pub will be preferred but there is a trend of people, especially younger groups, drinking before going to the pub.

"That shows people will always search for value."

Sunday Independent

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