September 16, 2008 / 11:27 AM / 11 years ago

Irish alcohol sales slide faster in weak economy

A pint of Guinness beer is seen outside a pub in London August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

DUBLIN (Reuters) - The consumption of alcoholic drinks in Ireland is likely to fall more in 2008 than in the past six years combined, as a weakening economy and high costs take their toll, an industry group said on Tuesday.

Alcohol sales dropped 7 percent in the first eight months of the year and they registered a 14 percent fall in the month of August alone compared with a year ago, the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) said.

C&C Group, which sells Bulmers cider in Ireland and Magners in Britain, in August said that it had not managed to reverse a fall in cider sales due to the economic downturn in its main markets and a particularly wet Irish summer.

London-based Diageo, the world’s largest alcoholic drinks group and which makes Guinness stout in Ireland, said last month it was facing tough trading in Spain, Britain and Ireland, though it was optimistic about North America.

“We’re being hit by the double whammy of high costs and a weakening economy,” DIGI Chairman Michael Patten said.

“On the basis of these figures, it’s likely that we’ll see a decline in alcohol consumption per adult of 8 percent or more during the current year — that’s more than the decline we saw over the past six years combined (-7 percent),” he said.

Reporting by Andras Gergely; Editing by Quentin Bryar

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