Newly released provisional Revenue clearance data shows that beer sales fell by 17.4% in April, May and June 2020 (Q2), compared to the same period last year.

According to the new Revenue figures, beer was the most heavily impacted drinks sector from COVID 19 in terms of sales. This is due to the closure of the on-trade, where the majority of beer produced in Ireland is consumed. In 2019, 62.7% of all beer sales were in the on-trade and 37.3% were in the off-trade.  Furthermore, 80% of stout sales, 78% of ale sales and 53% of lager sales were recorded in the on-trade sector.

Overall, total production was down marginally between 2018 and 2019 by 1%.

The figures come as Drinks Ireland|Beer, the Ibec-affiliated group that represents beer producers and distributers in Ireland, has released its annual Beer Market Report which updates on the performance of the sector in 2019, just prior to the Covid crisis.

The trade body has also said that provisional figures for 2020 show that Ireland’s beer sector has been heavily impacted by COVID 19.

Drinks Ireland|Beer has said that in 2020, production will be down much more significantly across the sector as a result of COVID 19.

The new report shows that total beer consumption fell by 2% last year, with per capita beer consumption down by 2.9%.

According to Drinks Ireland|Beer, brewers have supported pubs during the COVID 19 crisis with a massive keg uplift to collect out of date beer, and the cleaning of beer lines ahead of the planned full reopening of the sector, which has again been pushed out. It now says that there is an urgent need for dedicated Government support.

The new report also found that beer exports increased in 2019 by 8.5%, reaching €305 million. The top five export markets for Irish beer last year were the United Kingdom, France, the USA, Germany and Canada.

Jonathan McDade, Director of Drinks Ireland|Beer said: “The Government needs to set up a taskforce that is aimed at providing financial support for pubs that remain closed due to the COVID 19 crisis. With almost 50% of pubs remaining closed, a strong joined up Government support package is a priority, to avoid mass closures.

“Prior to the COVID crisis, 2019 was a challenging year for the sector with a decline in total beer sales and production.  As a result of the COVID 19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures, the brewing sector faces an uncertain future due to its reliance on a vibrant and active hospitality sector. If there is no significant Government intervention, many outlets will not be in a position to reopen come September.”

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