Changes in drinking habits in the Irish Republic could spill over into the UK if the proposed smoking ban in pubs goes ahead, according to the latest statistics from the industry.
A 13% increase in off-licence sales in Ireland in the past 12 months reflects a move away from drinking beer in the pub to consuming wine at home.
Wine consumption leapt 14.3% between 2003 and 2004 and now accounts for almost a fifth of the Irish alcohol market, putting it ahead of spirits for the first time, according to a report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland.
Wine increased its market share by 14.3% compared with 2004 while the market share of
beer fell by 0.9%. The Irish Brewers Association reported that sales of draught beer and cider fell 11.5% in the first four months of this year, and by 15% in Dublin, following a 9% slump last year. Sales of draught beer are reported to have plummeted due to a combination of rising brewery prices and the smoking ban, which came into effect 12 months ago in all pubs.
Drinks Industry Group of Ireland chairman Dick Dunne said: “We are moving towards a Continental-style market for alcohol, with strong off-licence sales growth and an increasing market share for wine.”
Members of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland include the Beverage Council of Ireland, the Cider Industry Council, Diageo Ireland, Irish Brewers Association, Licensed Vintners Association, National Off-Licence Association, Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Wine and Spirit Association.
Tesco said its sales were in growth in Ireland. It said: “Beers, wines and spirits sales in Ireland have been in growth at Tesco, but that is as much down to us expanding our ranges and investing in offering great value as it is to anything else.”
Anthony Garvey & Sonya Hook

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