How many tonnes of apples does the Irish cider sector buy?

It has been revealed in the ‘Irish Cider Association Market Report’ that the sector buys a total of 50,000t of apples each year.

The report, which is the first since 2012, also noted that Irish appetite for homegrown cider continues to be the staple of purchases with roughly 75% of cider consumed being made in the Republic of Ireland.

This marked a 2% increase in the market share for local purchases year-on-year.

Cider is Ireland’s third most popular alcoholic beverage with a market share of 7.5% in 2018, according to Revenue.

However, its market share has decreased marginally from 7.7% the previous year.

Since 2001, the average alcohol consumption per adult has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland, according to CSO / Revenue Commissioners.

The drinks industry, as a result, is going through a ‘premiumisation phase’, where consumers are seeking quality over quantity, evidenced by continued growth in premium, super-premium and craft categories.

The report shows that 64 million litres of cider were consumed in Ireland last year, making a €61 million contribution to the exchequer in 2018.

Over the past decade, Irish cider has contributed more than €500 million in excise to the exchequer.

Chairman of the Irish Cider Association, Seamus O’Hara (MD of Carlow Craft Brewing), said: “The Irish Cider Association is being re-established to help our 15 member companies, many of whom are recent entrants to the business, to adapt to new realities.

Consumers are demanding quality products and thus as an industry we’ve had to change our products to cater for that.

“Ireland’s cider industry makes a valuable contribution to our economy and cultural life, making it one of the most exciting industries to be in at the moment.

“As a result, cider drinkers in Ireland have unprecedented choice of cider products in our restaurants, pubs and retail outlets.”

Cider sector challenges

However, as Britain leaves the European Union on October 31, the sector faces significant challenges to its growth trajectory.

The head of the Irish Cider Association, Jonathan McDade, explained: “Today, about 85% of cider exports go to the UK.”

According to the report, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit, with potential tariffs on both inputs and finished product, has increased uncertainty for producers and could impact investment within the sector.

“It is vital that the Government does all it can to mitigate these external negatives for the industry.

At the moment, Irish cider consumers pay the third highest rate of excise on cider in the European Union, taking up nearly 30% of every pint.

Concluding, O’Hara said: “We believe the Government should reverse its ‘recession era emergency excise measures’ with an excise rate reduction in Budget 2020 to support the sector.”