Vodka is still Ireland's most popular spirit according to a new report from Drinks Ireland
They said sales declined by 10.2 per cent last year, but it enjoyed a 31.6 report market share in the spirits category.
This was followed by Irish whiskey (26.3 per cent market share), Irish gin (14.04 per cent), and rum (7.4 per cent).
Irish gin has become increasingly popular in Ireland in recent years, and this trend looks likely to continue.
While sales in Ireland fell by 6.6 per cent between 2019 and 2020, sales grew by 18.4 per cent between 2014 and 2019, prior to Covid-19.
Forecasts for the next five-year period suggest that the growth in gin and Irish gin has not ended and that the decline in 2020 will be seen as a Covid-19 related blip.
There has been an increase in ‘ready to drink’ (RTD) products hitting the shelves over the course of 2020.
These include spirits based RTDs and hard seltzers. As a category hard seltzer did not exist in Ireland in 2019, but in 2020 nearly 90 thousand cases of various brands were sold.
Closure of hospitality
Domestically, the report shows the closure of hospitality venues had a marked, negative impact on the sector.
Overall, sales of spirits fell by 4.8 per cent, from 2.42 million 9 litre cases in 2019 to 2.3 million cases in 2020.
Some spirits categories benefited from the consumer shift to the off-trade, according to the report, with domestic Irish cream liqueur sales growing by 26.5 per cent.
The latest report shows that Irish consumers face the third highest level of excise tax on spirits in the EU, and Drinks Ireland is calling on Government to reduce this in next month’s Budget.
Spirits exports from the Republic of Ireland also declined by 15.97 per cent last year.
Bryan Fallon, chair of Drinks Ireland said:“The report shows that the spirits sector did not escape unscathed from the Covid-19 pandemic. Irish hospitality venues are a vital component to the continued growth and prosperity of Ireland’s spirits and craft spirits sector, allowing companies to engage with consumers, so their closure was very much felt.
“Despite this, the resilience shown by the spirits sector last year in the face of the loss of one of the main consumer channels was remarkable, with producers responding with an increased emphasis on the off-trade and a focus on e-commerce.
“Outside of Covid-19, a number of other challenges remain such as Ireland’s high level of tax on alcohol, which is unsustainable and uncompetitive, and a burden to consumers."