A new study has showed a major decline in average Irish alcohol consumption over the last ten years. The study by economist Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School on behalf of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland* shows that average consumption has declined 17% between 2001 and 2011.
The study further shows that the first big decline in average consumption was in 2003 after which it remained consistent until 2007. A further large decline occurred in 2008 and 2009 partly due to the impact of cross border shopping.
While the decline was arrested in 2010 and 2011 as a result of the repatriation of trade previously lost to Northern Ireland, the current figure of 12 litres per adult is significantly below the 14.4 litres per adult peak of 2001 when Irish per adult consumption was the highest among OECD countries.
The report’s author, Anthony Foley, commented, “Average alcohol consumption declined from its peak in 2001 of 14.4 litres per adult to 13.5 litres per adult in 2003. It broadly stayed at this level until 2007 and in 2008 it declined to 12.5 litres per adult. There was a further decline in 2009, followed by an increase in 2010 and no change in 2011.
“The movements in 2009 and 2010 were influenced by the changing level of cross border purchases of alcohol. Part of the recorded decline in 2009 and part of the recorded increase in 2010 are due to this influence.
“In addition, the census of population has been revised upwards for 2011, with further similar revisions due for the years 2007-2011. This will lower the average adult consumption for each of those years, with the revised 2011 figure expected to be 11.8 litres per adult.
“In international terms average consumption increased in several OECD countries but declined in Ireland. In 2001, the Irish consumption level was the highest of the sample of countries in the OECD. In 2005 it was also the highest. However, by 2011 Ireland’s decline combined with increases elsewhere means that we are now approaching the levels of mid-ranked countries.
The Director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, Kathryn D’Arcy, commented, “Contrary to popular opinion average consumption of alcohol in Ireland has declined dramatically in recent years. From a health policy perspective, it is of interest to discover what effect, if any, the decline in average consumption over the past decade has had on the incidence of harmful consumption behaviour and on the consequences of alcohol misuse.
“It is important that policymakers take these findings into account when formulating national alcohol policy, especially in regard to the upcoming National Substance Misuse Strategy Group report.”
Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland