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  • Author: Michael Hussey, Senior Manager Alcohol & Seafood, Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board


    Covid-19 has had a big impact on the alcohol sector across the world. It has caused an acceleration of some trends that were already emerging, it has altered consumer shopping habits and has caused an economic downturn.

    Alcohol sales through the off trade were up by anywhere between 20-50% globally in the march to June period. Sales of alcohol through the e-commerce channel has been a big beneficiary of the lockdown and this is a trend that will probably grow even when things return normal.

    Covid-19 has made the consumer focus more on health and well-being. Mental wellbeing, healthy eating and exercising all increased in their priority for over 30% of US consumers (Mintel, 2020). The trend towards low and no alcoholic drinks segment saw a 32% jump in the final week of March 2020 as UK consumers prepared for lockdown (Canvass8, 2020). An exception to this trend can be seen in Ireland where 52% of people are now drinking more than once a week, up from 44% in 2019 (Canvass8, 2020). Britain has seen the public split on alcohol consumption, with 1 in 3 Britons consuming less alcohol during lockdown and 1 in 5 consuming more (Canvass8, 2020).


    As a result of the effect of the lockdown on their economies, 56% of Chinese consumers are worried or extremely worried about the effect Covid-19 will have on their lifestyle (Mintel, 2020). 87% of Japanese consumers are worried about unemployment (Mintel, 2020) and 69% concerned about household income. In France 34% of consumers are in a worse financial situation than before the crisis (Mintel, 2020). These financial concerns will place an emphasis on products that offer good value (Mintel, 2020). As consuming alcohol at home offers better value, will this stay at home consumption persist? Whether it’s cocktail kits, signature glasses or online cocktail tutorials there is space here for spirits brands to get creative and collaborative with the on trade. Bartenders and mixologists took to Instagram to showcase how to make their favourite cocktails at home. Bacardi have capitalised on this trend by setting up a Whatsapp hotline where consumers can text their ingredients and a Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition where bartender respond to help consumers craft their own cupboard cocktail! (Canvass8, 2020).

     “The at-home barista and bartender skills that were born out of necessity (or boredom) have the long-term advantages of being budget-friendly compared to paying on-premise prices. As stay-at-home restrictions ease, the need to spend less, save time and find permissible treats will lead to voluntary extensions of at-home habits.” – Mintel, 2020

    For further information contact-michael.hussey@bordbia.ie