Cider sales fell by 11.3% in Ireland last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report shows.
According to Drinks Ireland|Cider's annual Cider Market report the excise relief will enable further investment in the sector with the aim of replicating the expansion that the craft beer industry saw over the past 15 years.
The report found that the rolling lockdowns on hospitality venues in Ireland increased cider purchases in the retail sector, but this was not enough to offset the loss of cider sales in pubs, restaurants, and hotels.
The group noted that typically, around 45% of cider purchases are in the on-trade, with 55% in the off-trade.
However, in 2020 just 16% of cider was sold in the on-trade, with 84% of sales in the off-trade, illustrating the massive shift in purchasing patterns.
The COVID impact on cider, which is heavily reliant on the on-trade, meant that its market share of alcoholic beverages fell from 7.4% in 2019 to 6.9% in 2020, the data showed.
“With outdoor hospitality commencing from 7 June and growing optimism about the opening of indoor hospitality in July, the cider sector is hopeful of some recovery in the second half of this year," said Jonathan McDade, head of Drinks Ireland|Cider.
"While cider consumers reconfigured their drinking habits last year, with a shift to retail, the on-trade is critically important for the sector."
The report also found that the value of cider exports declined last year by 2.7% to €58.2 million.
About 90% of cider exports go to the United Kingdom, and other export destinations include the US, Australia, New Zealand, and France.
The report highlighted that Ireland has the third highest excise rate on cider in Europe, after Finland and Sweden. Over the past ten years, more than half a billion euro worth of excise receipts has been collected from cider sales in Ireland.
Call On Government To Extend Excise Relief
Cider producers have called on the Government to extend the excise relief, currently enjoyed by craft brewers, to craft cider producers.
Seamus O’Hara, Founder and CEO of Carlow Brewing Company, which produces Falling Apple and Craigies Cider, and Chair of Drinks Ireland|Cider said, “The Irish cider industry has had a challenging year and any assistance from the Government would be welcome," said
"The excise relief programme for Ireland’s craft brewers saw the number of breweries increase from 3 to 75 in the space of a decade. Extending this programme to craft cider producers could result in further growth in the sector, which will ultimately benefit the consumer with more choice,” he added.
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