Alcohol Action Ireland release its annual Alcohol Market Review and Price Survey 2018

Alcohol Action Ireland today (9th August) published its annual alcohol market review and price survey. It again demonstrates the remarkable affordability of alcohol to every day shoppers and the urgent necessity to implement the Public Health Alcohol Bill including Minimum Unit Pricing that will ensure the low cost of the strongest, cheapest alcohol will be tackled.

  • Alcohol so cheap – Irish Men can drink to weekly low risk threshold for as little as €8.49; women €5.49.
  • Ireland’s Off-Licence holders share a €3.74 billion bonanza market
  • Highly sophisticated pricing model ensures alcohol affordability is universal throughout urban, regional or rural Ireland.

Additionally, the Survey highlights the sophisticated pricing model for alcohol across the Irish 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 seven days, 22-29 July, across four nationwide locations, two urban and two regional/rural 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 Vodka.

The methodology deployed sought to establish the unit cost per Standard Drink: 10g of pure alcohol in each product surveyed, for example –

A Beer product that is 4.3% ABV in a 500ml volume container, contains 1.7 Standard Drinks, while

A Gin product that is 37.5% ABV in a 700ml volume container, contains 21 Standard Drinks.


The HSE low risk weekly guidelines on alcohol consumption for healthy adults aged 18-65 are currently:

Men:                     17 Standard Drinks, and

Women:               11 Standard Drinks


In line with our findings –

an adult male, consuming alcohol within these low-risk guidelines can reach the weekly threshold for as little as €8.49, and

an adult female, consuming alcohol within these low-risk guidelines can reach the weekly threshold for as little as €5.49.





The average annual hourly earnings of all employees were €22.43 in 2017 (CSO, June 2018).

The national minimum wage for an experienced adult employee is €9.55 per hour.


More widely, and assessing the main alcohol products available, the Irish consumer can spend as little as:

0.499c for a Standard Drink of Cider

0.507c for a Standard Drink of Beer

0.603c for a Standard Drink of Gin

0.618c for a Standard Drink of Vodka

0.736c for a Standard Drink of Whiskey

0.562c for a Standard Drink of Wine


Commenting on the remarkably low cost of Standard Drink across the available alcohol products, Dr Bobby Smyth, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Board Member of Alcohol Action Ireland said:

“At this level of affordability, for a tenner you can buy enough drink to cause a fatal alcohol overdose.”


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.

In many cases it is as cheap to buy Gin or Whiskey in a convenience store as a large supermarket; strong, cheap beer is often as affordable in small shops as it is in large supermarkets and cider is 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:

“Given the ubiquity of cheap alcohol in all stores, the loss of the original structural separation measures proposed within the Public Health Alcohol Bill but lobbied against by the Retailers (RRAI-IBEC-Retail Excellence) and diluted by Seanad Éireann in 2017, remains a significant lost opportunity to curb alcohol marketing by intrusive visibility in-store.”


 Ireland’s Off-Licence holders share a €3.74 billion off-trade market

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) most recent data from the National Income and Expenditure Annual Results 2017, published in July 2017, has determined the total Consumption of Personal Income on Alcohol Beverages (incl. pubs) was €7.306 billion, a 7.39% increase on 2016.

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 2017 (a methodology shared with IBEC commissioned economic analysis[1]), we believe it is reasonable to estimate the value of the 2017 Off-Trade market in Ireland at €3.74 billion.





Editor’s Note

The full detail of the Price Survey is available at:



The Market review and Price survey was carried out in two Dublin locations: south county and north Inner city; one regional city: Sligo, and one rural town: Ballina, by Alcohol Action Ireland between 22-29 July 2018.

As well as the retail price, the survey shows the price per standard drink (10 grams of alcohol) contained in the product, to illustrate how much it costs for a woman and man to reach their respective recommended low-risk limits if purchasing the cheapest alcohol products for sale in the off-trade.


For adults, the weekly recommended low-risk guidelines for alcohol consumption are:

Men: 17 standard drinks (168 grams of pure alcohol) or less, spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

Women: 11 standard drinks (112 grams of pure alcohol) or less, spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

[1] Socio- Economic Impacts of Proposed Regulations under the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, DKM Consultants, 2017, pp 17.