Belfast Telegraph

Booze sales on wane, but beer drinking on the rise

By Alan Jones

The amount of alcohol consumed in the UK has fallen by almost a fifth over the past decade while beer sales have witnessed a rise.

People drank an average of 7.76 litres of alcohol last year, slightly down on 2013, and over a litre-and-a-half less than in 2004, said the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Its annual study, based on HM Revenue and Customs tax returns, found that consumption has fallen in eight of the last 10 years.

Beer's share of the market increased by 1% to over 36% last year, ahead of wine (33%), spirits (21%) and cider (8%).

The association said two cuts in beer duty over the past two years and the scrapping of a so-called duty escalator had helped sales.

An estimated 7,000 pubs closed and 58,000 jobs were lost when the escalator was in place between 2008 and 2013.

Brigid Simmonds, the BBPA's chief executive, said: "While the figures certainly bury the myth that overall UK alcohol consumption is inexorably rising, it is hugely encouraging to see such a solid performance from beer in 2014.

"There is no doubt that two cuts in beer duty have had a huge impact in supporting a British-based industry and in encouraging consumers back towards our favourite, lower-strength drink.

"With new investment in the beer category protecting pubs and creating jobs, it all adds to an overwhelming case for a third, historic cut in beer duty in next week's Budget."

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said its research showed its members sold over 15% more beer last year, or 25% since the duty escalator was abolished.

Belfast Telegraph