The Irish Brewers Association (IBA), the representative voice for the brewing industry in Ireland, has elected Keith Fagan, Country Manager of Molson Coors Ireland as its new chairperson. The role of the chairperson became vacant when outgoing chairperson Maggie Timoney, CEO of Heineken Ireland, stepped down due to her appointment as CEO of Heineken USA.

The election of the new chairperson coincides with International Beer Day, a day to celebrate a beverage that has a cultural heritage spanning 5,000 years. Beer remains Ireland’s most popular alcoholic drink with a 45% market share. This is despite a fall in consumption of 2% between 2016 and 2017.

According to the IBA’s latest beer market report, the beer industry makes a valuable contribution to Ireland’s economy and cultural life:

· Exports of beer from Ireland were worth €273m in 2017

· Ireland is the 8th biggest exporter of beer in the EU

· The top 5 export markets for beer from Ireland are the UK, United States, France, Canada and Germany

· The beer industry in Ireland employs over 1,000 people directly

· 65% of beer is consumed in the on-trade in Ireland

· Lager is the most popular beer variant in Ireland, followed by stout and then ale

Speaking on his appointment Keith Fagan said: “I am honoured to take on this role to chair an association that has represented Ireland’s brewers since 1904. The economic contribution of Ireland’s brewing sector is significant, and I look forward to both promoting the sector and working with Government and other stakeholders to address the issues facing beer producers in Ireland.

“Looking at the legislative agenda, the beer industry clearly supports the overall objectives of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, to tackle harmful and underage drinking, but the IBA is concerned by the proposed requirement for mandatory cancer warning labels to be added on all pre-packaged beer products. No other country in the world has mandatory cancer labels on alcohol products, and, as the 8th largest exporter of beer in the EU, such a measure will damage those exports and the reputation that Irish beer enjoys around the globe.

“Forcing Irish beer producers to develop labels specifically for the Irish market and a second set of labels for elsewhere will increase complexity in the supply chain and impact the ability of many brewers, particularly those smaller craft brewers, to export. Equally, it will also pose a significant trade barrier for beer importers, as they will be required to create labels specifically for the Irish market, a small market in global terms and as a result some brewers may decide to stop selling to Ireland, thereby restricting choice for consumers.

“The IBA wants to work with Government on this matter and urges it to reconsider its position on unnecessary cancer warning labels and for the brewing industry to be treated as the cultural asset it deserves to be, as is evident in other beer producing countries like Germany and Belgium.”

Jonathan McDade, Head of the Irish Brewers Association continued: “I would like to congratulate Keith Fagan for his appointment as chair of the IBA and I very much look forward to working with him on the issues that are pertinent to the beer industry in Ireland.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Maggie Timoney’s contribution to the brewing sector in Ireland over the past five years. Maggie has been one of the Irish brewing industry’s most influential and talented leaders and I wish her the best of luck in her new role in the United States.”