IRELAND: Drinks sales sink to 1990s levels
Recession claims 15,000 sector jobs - DIGI
Nearly one in six jobs in Ireland's alcoholic drinks sector have been lost since the country slipped into recession, says a new industry report.
Around 15,000 jobs have evaporated over the last 18 months and more cuts are likely in 2010, said trade body Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) in its annual update today (22 March).
Weak consumer spending, lost trade to Northern Ireland and fewer visiting tourists have seen per capita alcohol consumption in the Republic of Ireland slip back to levels of the mid-1990s, DIGI said.
"As predicted, 2009 turned out to be an even poorer year than 2008 for drinks sales and consumption in Ireland, meaning that it was the worst year for our industry in living memory," said DIGI chairman Kieran Tobin.
Drinks volume sales fell by 9% in 2009, following a 6% drop in 2008. DIGI predicted a further 5% fall in 2010, with the on-trade continuing to be hit disproportionately hard.
"Against this backdrop, it is difficult to be optimistic about the immediate prospects for the drinks industry," said Tobin.
But, he praised the Irish Government for reducing duty tax on alcohol by 20% in its Budget for 2010.
"There is clear evidence that the benefits of this reduction have been passed-on to consumers in order to provide a small boost to the drinks industry and the wider economy. This reduction is in addition to price decreases across the entire drinks sector that were recorded in 2009," he said.
Exports of "key brands", which include Jameson whiskey and Guinness, offer the best hope for sector recovery, Tobin added.
As of the start of 2010, Ireland's drinks sector employed 80,000 people.
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