Consumers spent close to €1bn on food in Irish pubs in 2016. According to research conducted by Bord Bia the total all-Ireland spend in pubs was €1.34bn, of which €954m was generated in the Republic.

The overall foodservices market (all food consumed outside the home) was valued at €7.5bn in 2016 and is projected to grow to €9.1bn by the end of 2020.

According to Bord Bia pubs now account for 20% of consumer spend. Quick service restaurants dominate the market with €2.6bn worth of sales while hotels generate €1.2bn in food sales.

Purchases made by publicans in the Republic came to €277m for the same period.

In its report on foodservices Bord Bia made the following comments about the pub sector:

The following operational trends have been pivotal in terms of impact on the pub sub-channel in 2016.

  1. The rising number of tourism has helped Ireland’s well-known bars in tourist-prone areas and cities to enjoy increased sales.
  2. As the major cities of Ireland become more saturated with new restaurants and bars, bars and restaurants providing multiple concepts under one roof are increasingly finding success. These venues benefit from their ability to attract multiple groups of people who are looking for different scenes. Concepts include cafes, nightclubs, and gastropubs.
  3. Operators are burdened by Ireland’s heavy alcohol tax, increased minimum wage, cost of insurance, and increased operating costs.
  4. The popularity of craft beer continues to rise. The number of microbreweries in Ireland has more than quadrupled since 2012 to 90, with 2/3 of these producing beer on their own premises and the remainder marketing and selling products beer produced by outside breweries. Revenue of €40 million was recorded for 2015, with a projected €59 million for 2016. Of the total amount of beer consumed in 2015, 2.5% of it was craft beer and this is predicted to increase to 3.4% in 2016.

The following consumer trends have been pivotal in terms of impact on the pub sub-channel in 2016.

  1. Drinkers today are not as loyal to brands and are exploring new drinks. More pubs are seeing sales increase with broader menus with different types of whiskey, craft beers, and gins.
  2. Consumers continue to look for better quality food offerings at gastropubs.
  3. Unemployment levels are decreasing in Ireland, allowing a higher frequency in visits to pubs.
  4. Consumers are less likely to go for “beverage only occasions,” and as a result food-led pubs continue to open. Food led pubs have performed very well as a result of the value the food menus offer these establishments, encouraging consumers to stay longer and spend more. These types of establishments create a “blurring of lines” between full service restaurants (that are increasingly focused on building a bar business) and pubs.
  5. Consumers respond more positively to outlets with a strong ambiance and design, whether that be a genuine Irish pub or a modern gastropub.