Drinks Ireland is calling for urgent Government support for Ireland's pub sector, as it publishes its annual Beer Market Report.

The latest report from Drinks Ireland Beer shows that beer sales fell by 17.4% in April, May and June, compared to the same period last year.

The Ibec-affiliated group said beer was the most heavily impacted drinks sector from Covid-19 in terms of sales, due to the closure of pubs where the majority of beer produced in Ireland is consumed.

In 2019, 62.7% of all beer sales were in the on-trade and 37.3% were in the off-trade. 

The new report shows that total beer consumption fell by 2% last year, while total production was down marginally between 2018 and 2019 by 1%.

Drinks Ireland has said that in 2020, production will be down much more significantly across the sector as a result of the pandemic.

The report reveals that beer exports increased in 2019 by 8.5%, reaching €305 million. The top five export markets for Irish beer last year were the United Kingdom, France, the USA, Germany and Canada.

Direct employment among Drinks Ireland members was up marginally last year by 4%, from 1,103 people to 1,147 people.

Jonathan McDade, Head of Drinks Ireland Beer called for further Government supports for the sector.

"Prior to the Covid crisis, 2019 was a challenging year for the sector with a decline in total beer sales and production.  As a result of the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdown measures, the brewing sector faces an uncertain future due to its reliance on a vibrant and active hospitality sector. If there is no significant Government intervention, many outlets will not be in a position to reopen come September," he said.