It’s a go for “low and no” as Drinks Ireland releases consumer trends to watch in 2020

Friday, 27 December 2019

• Spirited growth for premium Irish whiskey and gin set to continue in 2020 as spirits sales grow by almost 2% in the first three quarters of 2019
• Irish alcohol consumption continues to fall, as consumers choose quality over quantity
• Conscious and eco-friendly consumers now choosing more homegrown drinks brands

A move towards heritage, authenticity, locally-sourced products and health and well-being are among the top trends set to impact what consumers drink in 2020, according to an analysis by Drinks Ireland, which represents drinks manufacturers and suppliers.

The analysis explores sales data in the Irish market in 2018 and 2019, recent market research, as well as international trends likely to be reflected here.

Here are Drink Ireland’s top 5 trends to watch in 2020:

1. Low and no alcohol beer
Sales of low and non-alcoholic beer jumped by 60% in Ireland last year, to 30,000 hectolitres. While final figures are yet to be tallied for 2019, producers expect this figure to have increased substantially again for the year.

A number of producers have released low and non-alcoholic brands to meet the growing trend of health and well-being, with many consumers cutting back on their drinking.

Looking internationally, we see that in the UK sales of low and alcohol-free beers jumped 28% in the year to February 2019, compared with the previous 12 months.

Beer is Ireland’s most popular drink and in Spain, where beer is also popular, non-alcoholic beer now accounts for around 12% of the overall beer market, which is very significant.

According to Drinks Ireland, there is still considerable room for low and non-alcoholic beer to grow in 2020 to meet rising consumer demand.

2. High spirits for Irish whiskey and gin producers as consumers go premium
Irish consumers are increasingly choosing premium spirits, including Irish whiskey and gin, with more choice than ever on the market.

Provisional figures from Revenue show that sales of spirits increased by 1.8% in Ireland in the first three quarters of 2019, compared with the same period in 2018.

Irish gin has been the one to watch in the past two years and remains the fastest growing spirit in Ireland. Gin sales soared in Ireland last year, up by 31.8 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

As the market matures here, it is anticipated that the number of new gin players in the market in Ireland will decrease in 2020. However, consumer demand is expected to remain steady - and probably grow.

Irish whiskey is the second most popular spirit in Ireland, with a 25.1 per cent share of the market.

It is also increasing in popularity and sales increased by 5.4 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

3. Consumers choosing quality over quantity as they drink less
While diversity in the Irish drinks market is rife, the long-term trend shows that people are actually drinking less.

Since 2001, the average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland, according to CSO and Revenue Commissioner Data.

This is line with the trend towards health and well-being, and the increase in demand for premium drinks products.

4. Love for the homegrown as consumers buy Irish
Research from Bord Bia shows that Irish consumers love authenticity and locally-sourced food and drinks products, and this trend is on the rise.

Consumers are seen to value local food and drink because of benefits such as supporting the local economy, transparency, together with the sustainable aspect of buying from local producers.

We have seen a recent surge in Irish whiskey distilleries, Irish gin and Poitin brands and Irish craft beer products all meeting this demand.

But Irish homegrown cider is also one to watch in 2020, as the popularity of cider is on the up.

The most recent data shows that 75% of all cider consumed in Ireland was made in Ireland.

5. Irish consumers to be offered more drinking experiences
Ireland tends to follow London when it comes to a number of drinks trends, including in the hospitality industry, according to Drinks Ireland.

From, ‘cocktail escapism’, which allows for total immersion in a sort of sensory chamber, where you drink unidentified cocktails, to ‘around the globe’ drinks experiences, London is at the forefront of an exciting and diverse drinks hospitality sector.

We are beginning to see this emerge in Ireland, with more consideration being given to a consumers overall drinks experience.

Again, this is in line with a general move towards consumers being more considerate about how much, and indeed how, they drink.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland said:

“Ireland has a long and proud history of brewing, distilling and cider production, but there’s never been a more exciting time for Ireland’s drinks industry.

“The growth and change has been driven by the industry’s ability to innovate, in order to respond to consumer demands at home and abroad. Ultimately, we see that consumers at home are choosing ‘quality’ over ‘quantity’ which is certainly positive for our industry.

“And demand for Irish drinks products, particularly spirits, is on the up in export markets, with the sector selling €1.4 billion worth of Irish drinks products in over 140 markets.

“While there are a number of challenges ahead for the industry, including US tariffs, Brexit and continuing high excise rates, we toast a strong 2019 and look forward to an even better performance in 2020.”