Alcohol consumption data for 2020 very disappointing

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national independent advocate for reducing alcohol harm, has today (Wednesday, 10 March), expressed its disappointment on the data released by Revenue: provisional alcohol clearances and receipts 2020.


This data indicates that Ireland’s alcohol consumption during the national COVID pandemic crisis, when most licenced premises were closed, has fallen by a little over 6% to 10.07 litres per capita.

This is a reduction on the 2019 alcohol consumption figure of 10.78 litres per capita.

Net Alcohol excise receipts for the year ended show only a 2.4% decline, demonstrating that the public finances have experienced little impact because of the pandemic experience.

Within the sectoral receipts’ breakdowns, Wine shows a 12% consumption increase, Spirits a further 0.7% increase, year on year, while Beer indicates a 17.3% decrease and Cider a 11.4% reduction.

Commenting on the figures, Eunan McKinney said:

The data for the year 2020 highlights the extraordinary shift that has taken place among Ireland’s dinking population and the ocean of alcohol that has poured into the nation’s homes. From the beginning of the COVID crisis we have been urging government to act on this consequence. The introduction of minimum unit pricing on alcohol products, which primarily applies to the off-trade who have experienced a profit boom, would act as some curb on what undoubtedly will be the source of many problems to come; a temporary lifestyle may now be permanent habit meantime 200,000 children every day have to navigate the chaos of parental problem alcohol use.


Editor’s Note


How is our per capita alcohol consumption worked out in Ireland?

Alcohol consumption figures for Ireland are calculated on the basis of figures provided by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The total volume of alcohol consumed, measured in litres of pure alcohol, is based on Revenue’s clearances data. Revenue’s clearances data provides information on the alcohol content of spirits and beer, but not for wine and cider products. Therefore, for wine and cider, estimates of 12.5% and 4.5% ABV are applied to work out the aggregate alcohol content of the products in these categories. These estimates can be considered conservative in the current market.

When the figure of litres of pure alcohol across the categories is totalled using Revenue’s clearances data, this figure is then divided by the population aged 15-years-old and above, as defined by the latest information available from the CSO.

Revenue data for 2020 available at: