Irish beer makers increased their export levels slightly last year, though the amount earned from overseas sales was down 2.5% to €273m, according to the Irish Brewers Association's latest Beer Market Report. Exports are still way up compared to three years ago, however, with 44% of what is produced here going overseas.

Johnathan McDade, head of the Irish Brewers Association, said that because so many of their beer exports go to the UK (€111 million), the currency fluctuations have an impact on the export value as supposed to the volume. The financial disruptions infer a hard Brexit would be a major concern. 

According to Mr McDade, a hard Brexit would negatively affect the physical movement of beer across the channel and Ireland's Northern border. 69% of Ireland's estimated 100 craft breweries and microbreweries export to the UK and would also be significantly hit.

Johnathan McDade said that craft breweries make up only 3% of the market, but have been growing at a remarkable rate of 187%. This rapid rise of craft brewers reflects the endless choice drinkers have for Irish beer. The vast choices, however, come at great costs - the risk of cancer. 

The Irish Brewer's Beer Market Report highlights concerns about increasing the public's knowledge of alcohol's cancer risk. But placing cancer warnings on alcoholic products - the Public Health Alcohol Bill's proposed idea - is not welcomed by McDade. He feels that "the link between alcohol and cancer is quite complex and it can't be condensed into one label. Simply stating that alcohol causes cancer is somewhat sensational and misleading." 

Even though alcohol is directly linked to seven different cancers, McDade believes making Ireland the first country in the world to have a cancer warning would create a "significant barrier to trade" not just in Ireland, but to the European Union as a single market. 

According to a 2017 DKM report, such a label would especially hurt smaller producers who could not absorb the costs like larger breweries. Similarly, Ireland's estimated craft breweries need consumers' support and could not endure the costs of labels warnings, he added.


MORNING BRIEFS - Brexit and the threat of a global trade war has weighed on companies' confidence despite an improved performance in the past three months. That is according to the latest business sentiment survey from KBC Bank and Chartered Accountants Ireland. Firms reported stronger output and hiring in the quarter - but fears about the future pushed the index to its lowest level since 2017.

*** Sports Direct has reported a 72.5% plunge in pre-tax profits to £77.5m in the year to the end of April. The fall was blamed on its strategic investment in struggling retailer Debenhams, as well as the fact that last year's profits was boosted by the sale of sports brand Dunlop. Sports Direct owns Heatons in Ireland, following its acquisition in 2016.

**** Consumer goods maker Unilever has reported lower-than-expected second quarter sales, hurt by a Brazilian transport strike and weak pricing. The Anglo-Dutch maker of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Hellmann's mayonnaise said underlying sales rose 1.9% compared to an expected 2.3%.