€600 million more spent on alcohol than food — are we ready to pay the price?

€600 million more spent on alcohol than food – are we ready to pay the price?

Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, today described findings that Ireland spends more €7.1 billion* on alcohol – €600 million more than food – as “disturbing”.

Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Fiona Ryan said: “These figures basically show that when it comes to spending power – alcohol wins over food every time. The question is – are we ready to pay the price for that decision in terms of impact on individuals, families and communities? We are now treating what was a treat or luxury item, as a necessity like bread or milk alongside of which alcohol is currently being sold.”

Ms Ryan said these figures were put into perspective by a Central Statistics Office report looking at our spending in 1999-2000 which showed we spent three times more on food than we did on alcohol.  

She said: “While direct comparison of statistics from different sources is always difficult – they do indicate a significant shift in thinking and spending habits on alcohol. What we do know has happened in the intervening period is a marked increase in the number of outlets offering alcohol for sale with an accompanying spread of alcohol marketing.  

“Alcohol marketing has four key elements – product, price, place, promotion.   Product placement can have a huge impact on profits which is why products are placed where they are in supermarkets and shops.

“When you put alcohol next to ordinary food and drinks like – fruit juice or milk or in some cases sweets – you’re sending out the message that alcohol is the same, a particularly dangerous message for children and young people. Considering we have some of the highest rates of child drinking in Europe, it’s a message that carries a high price tag and one we cannot afford to pay.”

Alcohol Action Ireland has already described as a “missed opportunity”, the Government’s decision to leave out Section 9 of the Intoxicating Liquor Bill, which would have made it mandatory to separate alcohol from ordinary food and drink stuffs.   

*Figures based on Agri Aware survey 26.08.08

For further information or comment contact:

Alcohol Action Ireland

Tel: (01) 878 0610 or 087 219 5723