Guinness Sales Falling in Ireland
Sales of Guinness are plummeting in its native Ireland, as wealthier consumers are sipping Chardonnay and cider.
“You’ll still sell Guinness, but you’ll sell the likes of wheat beers, beers from the Czech Republic, beers from Poland,” said Eddy Martin, who runs the Bailey Bar. “Beer sales are declining while the amount of wine is phenomenal. Before, people would say they wanted a white wine, now they’ll say they want a Chardonnay,” he said at the bar in the heart of Dublin’s smartest shopping district.
Latest figures from global drinks giant Diageo, which owns Guinness, show local sales for the brand down about 7 percent in the six months to the end of December 2006 from a year before. Wine now accounts for over a fifth of alcohol drunk in Ireland.
Sales are doing well in North America and parts of West Africa — where the stronger, bottled local version of Guinness has a reputation, perhaps undeserved, for everything from helping prevent malaria to enhancing male sexual prowess.
But while “Irish pubs” have become a fixture across the globe, many in Ireland have been struggling. Guinness reckons Irish pubs are opening abroad at the rate of about one a day — the same rate as rural pubs are closing back home.
That is bad news for Guinness. Most people say it is best straight from the tap, a process that should take at least a couple of minutes to deliver a perfect pint. “People are cash-rich, but time-poor so there’s been a shift away from the amount of times that people are going to the pub,” said Mackin.
The trend is toward drinking with food in restaurants as well as in buying wine or beer to drink at home. With a pint (just over half a liter) of Guinness costing over 4 euros ($5.30) in a Dublin pub, it may not look that cheap either.
Pub landlords complain other discouraging factors have been a smoking ban and, in rural areas, tougher restrictions on drinking and driving to cut road deaths — though many point out that Guinness remains their best seller. “You might find your ladies drinking wine, but only the odd male — and then with food,” said Keith O’Brien, 25, barman at a pub near Dublin’s River Liffey. “Younger drinkers are more likely to drink lager or cider, more refreshing drinks, especially in the summer, though. They’ll turn to shots (of spirits) when they’ve filled up on the beer and can’t get anything more in.”
Now that’s the old Irish spirit!
Seriously, while this is bad news for Guinness, it’s good news for Ireland. More diversified tastes are a direct result of affluence. Being able to afford imported wine and beer rather than being forced to drink the local brew is a positive, no matter how good the local may be.
While I personally prefer a stout to any Pilsner, I seldom have two identical beers in a row, switching depending on my mood, what food I’m having with it, and so on. Indeed, beer is like wine in that regard. Guinness is rather like a cabernet in that it will stand up well to hearty food but overpower lighter fare, whereas a wheat beer like Hoegaarden or Maisel’s Weisse are excellent with the latter.
via Dan Collins
UPDATE: Collins sends along a link to the Guinness 1759 Society page which has a graphical presentation imploring me to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Guinness. One presumes it would be acceptable to intermingle some Smithwick’s into the occasion, since they are brewed (or at least distributed) by the same company.