- Alcohol so cheap – Irish Men can drink weekly low-risk guideline limit for as little as €7.48; women €4.84.
- Highly sophisticated pricing model ensures alcohol affordability is universal throughout urban, regional or rural Ireland.
- Introduction of Minimum Unit pricing must now be prioritised
- Ireland’s Off-Licence holders share an estimated €3.8 billion bonanza market
Alcohol Action Ireland published its annual off-trade alcohol market review and price survey. It again demonstrates the remarkable affordability of alcohol to every day shoppers and the urgent necessity to commence Minimum pricing of alcohol products that will ensure the low cost of the strongest, cheapest alcohol will be tackled.
Additionally, the Survey highlights the sophisticated pricing model for alcohol across the Irish Off-Trade market that enhance affordability at all levels of retail experience, and the scale of the Irish Off-Trade shared amongst a small number of major retail operators.
The survey conducted over four days, 24-26 July, across four nationwide locations, two urban and two regional centres, highlights that cider products remain the cheapest, strongest alcohol products available to the off-trade consumer. Beer products are the second cheapest just ahead of wine and Spirit products such as gin and whiskey.
Our survey found that –
- an adult male, consuming alcohol within these low-risk guidelines can reach the weekly limit for as little as €7.48, and
- an adult female, consuming alcohol within these low-risk guidelines can reach the weekly limit for as little as €4.84.
The average annual hourly earnings of all employees were €23.07 in 2018 (CSO, June 2019).
The national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.80 per hour (National Minimum Order 2018).
More widely, and assessing the main alcohol products available, the Irish consumer can spend as little as:
- 0.44c for a Standard Drink of Cider
- 0.46c for a Standard Drink of Beer
- 0.56c for a Standard Drink of Wine
- 0.67c for a Standard Drink of Gin
- 0.62c for a Standard Drink of Vodka
- 0.68c for a Standard Drink of Whiskey
Debunking the myth that large supermarkets are the sole supplier of cheap drink.
The survey also highlights the sophisticated retailing model deployed nationwide – urban, regional and rural – by the alcohol industry and their retail partners, that maximises the yields from alcohol sales to all retail partners.
It is often as cheap to buy Cider in a convenience store in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny as a supermarket in Malahide; beer is as affordable in a neighbourhood shop in Sligo as it is in a Skerries supermarket, while spirits are universally cheap through all levels of alcohol retailing.
Commenting on this profiling of the retail alcohol marketing landscape, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications at Alcohol Action Ireland, said:
“Our annual survey increasingly highlights that alcohol is becoming more affordable in Ireland. Consistently the alcohol industry and their surrogates recite the seemingly ‘prohibitive’ cost of alcohol in Ireland and demand government support to reduce excise duties.
Given the remarkable, universal affordability of alcohol in Ireland, any reduction in the cost would be utterly destructive of public health objectives and aims to reduce our excessive consumption.
Our survey highlights the clear and urgent need for the government and the Minister for Health to immediately commence the minimum unit pricing of alcohol products, which passed into law last October but lies stuck in political inertia.
This availability of such cheap, strong alcohol is killing our people. It is simply incredible that economic interest would continue to be advanced ahead of a public health measure that would benefit the wellbeing of our youth and those at high risk because of alcohol.
Ireland’s Off-Licence holders share a €3.8 billion off-trade market
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) most recent data from the National Income and Expenditure Annual Results 2018, published in July 2019, has determined the total Consumption of Personal Income on Alcohol Beverages (incl. pubs) was €7.447 billion, a 1.6% increase on 2017.
The Household Budget Survey 2015 to 2016 provides an insight into average weekly household expenditure. The total weekly expenditure on Alcoholic drink and tobacco – €28.00, illustrates that €10.56 was on ‘Drink consumed at home’ while €10.06 was on ‘Drink consumed out’ with the remainder spent on tobacco products. From this data we can extrapolate that of the monies expended on alcohol, 51.2% is focused on the Off Trade (‘Drink consumed at home’).
In this context, and citing the CSO’s National Income and Expenditure Annual Results 2018 (a methodology adopted from IBEC commissioned economic analysis), we believe it is reasonable to estimate the value of the 2018 Off-Trade market in Ireland at €3.81 billion.