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‘HOPPORTUNITY’ TO GROW IRELAND'S CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY

23 November 2016

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health, Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Labour spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Alan Kelly, will today launch a Bill aimed at boosting craft-beer tourism in Ireland by removing a major regulatory barrier for breweries, microbreweries, cider makers and distilleries.

The Intoxicating Liquor (Breweries and Distilleries) Bill 2016 would allow these businesses to sell their own produce to tourists and other visitors on site, which is not the case under current licensing laws.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The craft-beer industry in Ireland is going from strength to strength, with an eleven-fold increase in annual turnover since 2011, and a 29 per cent jump in the number of production microbreweries operating across the country this year, compared to last*.

“Ireland’s microbreweries employ 439 full time workers, with an estimated 392 people also indirectly employed in the industry. Microbreweries are in operation in 23 of the 26 counties, with a projected turnover of €59 million euro this year.

“Many of these distilleries, breweries and microbreweries are also major tourist attractions that welcome visitors and offer guided tours, and owners say there is a substantial demand for craft-beer tasting on site. 

“However, the ability to fully capitalise on this potential for ‘craft-beer tourism’ is being hampered by current licensing regulations, which require producers to have a pub license or an off-licence to sell their produce, made on site, to tourists and visitors.

“For example, can you imagine a situation existing in Italy, France or Spain, where tourists visiting vineyards are prevented from purchasing wine at the end of their tour?

“This was actually the most common issue highlighted by microbreweries as a barrier to development in a recent report for the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland and Bord Bia.

“The legislation that I am proposing would rectify that, and be of enormous benefit to the smaller scale and local producers in particular, as well as small batch distilleries and cider makers.

“The Bill includes safeguards such as time restrictions of between 10am and 6pm for sales, and fines to ensure owners don’t sell alcohol that is not brewed on site. And there’s a clause preventing the license holders from applying for the types of exemptions and/or extensions to opening hours that pubs and clubs for example, can apply for.

“The objective here is simple- to remove a regulatory barrier to growth and support an expanding industry in Ireland.”

ENDS

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

*Figures contained in the Final Report on Craft Beer and Microbreweries in Ireland, August 2016, for the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland and Bord Bia.

Other points contained in the report:

  •  It is estimated that there are some 90 microbreweries operating in the Republic of Ireland, of which 62 are production microbreweries and at least 28 are contracting companies.
  •  There has been a 29% increase in the number of production microbreweries from 48 in 2015 to 62 in 2016. The number of microbreweries has more than quadrupled since 2012.
  • It is estimated that 13 new production microbreweries commenced production in 2015, compared with a total of 20 in 2014. This highlights the phenomenal growth in new enterprises in the last two years: 33 of the 62 production microbreweries commenced production in 2014-2015.
  • The output of craft beer by production microbreweries amounted to some 134,000 hectolitres (hl) in 2015. This represents a 56% increase on the 2014 figure of 86,000hl. In absolute terms, output rose by 48,000hl. Output from the 13 microbreweries that commenced production in 2015 accounted for one-quarter of the increase of 48,000hl. Thus, pre-2015 breweries expanded production significantly.
  •   On the basis of current trends for the year 2016 to date, the breweries are anticipating that output will rise by 63,000hl or 47% to 197,000hl for the year as a whole. Looking at the trends over the last few years, it is clear that the percentage growth rate in production is in decline from a high of 75% in 2013. This is not surprising as such growth rates are difficult to sustain at higher production levels.
  •    The total turnover of craft beer producers in 2015 is estimated at €40m and at a projected €59m for 2016. In the five years since 2011, turnover has increased eleven fold.
  • Based on international experience, there is substantial potential for further development of the Irish craft beer industry in terms of both numbers and output. An increase in the number of breweries to more than one hundred and a five-fold increase in output is possible over the longer term.
  • The microbrewing industry sources over half of its brewing ingredients by value domestically. For example, almost 95% of microbreweries source supplies of malted barley from within the Republic of Ireland, typically amounting to 80% to 90% of all their malted barley inputs. Distribution is another source of local spin-off activity. Thus, there are significant downstream benefits for the agricultural and other sectors  in Ireland.
  • At current (2016) production levels, microbreweries that are in operation are employing 439 persons on a full time equivalent (FTE) basis. Of the total employment, 399 persons are employed in production microbreweries and 40 in contracting companies.