AAI publishes Alcohol Market Review 2022

Alcohol Market Review 2022

Raising the bar: time to reassess the inflated reputation of the alcohol industry


Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (Thursday 1st September) published its 2022 Alcohol Market Review.

The Review highlights the market revenues – €5.555bn in 2021, demonstrating who benefits and how, only a handful of companies are monopolising the Off-Trade receipts of €2.505bn.

Ireland’s alcohol industry – producers, merchants and retailers, spent an estimated €116m last year advertising alcohol products that cost our society: citizens and taxpayers alike, an estimated €1.9 billion alone in health-related alcohol costs – 11% of the overall health budget.

Alcohol Action have forensically tracked the flow of State welfare, exposing an unhealthy relationship between the alcohol industry and the State, and its agencies, who through subsidy and preferential aid, contributed €115m in support over the last decade.

The Review demonstrates how an inflated and self-promoting reputation obscures the alcohol industry’s negative contribution to extraordinary levels of alcohol harm in Irish society, and disallows strategic action to cohesively address Ireland’s biggest drug problem.

While highlighting the level of state funding in addiction services and community based Alcohol & Drug Taskforces, the Review demonstrates how little dedicated funding is allocated to much needed specific alcohol interventions, programmes or services, and indicates there is a significant gap between treatment demand and actual provision.

Commenting on the Review, Eunan McKinney, Head of Communications and Advocacy, Alcohol Action, said:

“There is a paradoxical proposition at the heart of public governance that believes in the first instance that the Irish alcohol industry is somehow central to Ireland’s cultural and economic reputation but that latterly recognises that some basic action must be taken to reduce the impact of the attributable alcohol harm. Our Review highlights that the former is both prioritised and consistent, while the latter is largely disparate and lacks the required strategic intent to tackle the scale of the problem.”

Prof Frank Murray MD, Chair – Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

“Ireland pays an enormous human and economic price for its continued high level of alcohol use and while some progress has been made by establishing meaningful alcohol controls much more needs to be done.  Our ambition is that future governments will recognise, as has been done in the past with tobacco and road safety, that a greater strategic coherence must be brought to public health alcohol policy and expenditure, and that this, along with better access to timely alcohol services, can be achieved if an appropriately resourced Alcohol Office is established to co-ordinate such ambition.”

Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland, said:

“It cannot be acceptable that such a highly profitable industry whose products inflict such harm yet bear so little of the cost. Our Review urges people, but in particular officeholders and policymakers, to reassess the reputation and obstructive nature of an industry who, aided by the State, relentlessly promotes its product, often circumventing statutory measures, principally to those who are the heaviest users or enticing our youth with brand propositions and a lifetime of risk free drinking.


Editor’s Notes: 

Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (Thursday 1st September) published its 2022 Alcohol Market Review.

The Review presents an overview of many economic and financial aspects of Ireland’s alcohol market. It examines the scale of alcohol use per drinker and per household, and the financial rewards captured by a small group of monopolistic national and international alcohol producers. Exploring the central strands of the alcohol industry’s reputational gain, the Review examines some key data: national exports, employment, value to GDP/GNP, etc., and suggests that the alcohol industry enjoys a preferred, and favoured, position within Irish society, as well as significant media and political patronage, to sustain an inflated reputation, which obscures its negative contribution to persistent levels of alcohol harm that costs the State multiples of any commensurate taxes collected.

Last year, the average drinker and household in Ireland each consumed the equivalent of:

235 cans of Beer (4.3% ABV, 500ml) per drinker, or 444 cans, per household;

11 bottles of Spirits (37.5% ABV, 70cl) per drinker, or 21 bottles, per household;

39 bottles of wine (12.5% ABV, 75cl) per drinker, or 74 bottles, per household, and

35 cans of Cider (4.5% ABV, 500ml) per drinker, or 66 cans, per household.

Find the full report here