A new report says per capital alcohol consumption in Ireland dropped nearly 10% over the last year. Kieran Tobin, chairman of the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), sees the sobering numbers as evidence of “the worst year for our industry in living memory.” Others outside the drinks industry, like The Irish Times, take a more sober, clear-headed view of the statistics and see the many health benefits of less drinking outweighing the economic consequences.
The report was commissioned by DIGI and completed by Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School. More statistics from the decline:
- Pubs have been closing at a rate of one a day, and 15,000 jobs have been lost over the last 18 months
- 1,500 pubs closed in the past five years
- the 9.6% per capital decrease in 2009 is on top of a 7.7% decrease in 2008
- By volume, consumption decreased 8.9% in 2009, and 5.9% in 2008
- Foley predicts another 5% drop in volume for this year
- Consumption is now 21% below its peak “during the drunken haze that was 2001,” when Ireland was at the height of its economic boom
- 2009 alcohol consumption levels are the lowest since 1996
The Irish Times points out that the current lower level in Ireland’s alcohol consumption has actually met a target health goal set by the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol back in 2004. The Times largely credits the decrease to the sad state of Ireland’s economy, with disposable income disappearing and consumer confidence way down as well.
The report’s compiler even points to a silver lining for Ireland’s alcohol industry because while the Irish are drinking less, the amount they are spending on their drinking is not declining at the same rate. So don’t count on a substantially lower bar tab on your next visit. What you might find though is healthier drinking companions, as the Irish Times article ends on this cheerful note:
… the economic misfortune of a weaker, suffering drinks industry is clearly outweighed by the public health benefits of lower consumption. The drinks industry is not the patient here; the patient is us – and we appear to be getting better.
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