Report: UK craft beer doubles since '09
Trade association calculates 3 mhl, 7% of market
Members of Britain's Society of Independent Brewers have nearly doubled their production since 2009 to top three million hectolitres, 7% of the UK beer market.
The results of the 2016 British Beer Report survey among more than 300 of SIBA’s 850 members, unveiled at BeerX in Sheffield last week, also pointed to continuing future growth. Four out of five companies anticipate they’ll increase turnover this year with one in six planning to at least double in size by 2018.
In the past year, 70% made ‘significant’ investments in their breweries, suggesting to managing director Mike Benner that “savings from Small Brewers Relief and duty cuts have been invested back into the business said very little has been used to discount.
He concluded, “Against a background of a long term decline in British beer, it’s indisputable there’s been a renaissance.”
Brewers have expanded their core ranges of regular beers and introduced new styles and formats, he said. And while 77% of production still goes into cask, that proportion is declining, with keg beer doubling since 2013. And although only 1% is canned, that is expected to increase significantly.
The survey also revealed independent brewers’ growing importance to their local economy, between them expecting to recruit 930 new people this year.
“The brewery has become as important to local communities as the pub,” declared Benner.
Exports are on the up, too. Some 17% of companies now sell some of their beer abroad, and another 54% are planning to follow them into international markets.
Fully booked ‘Meet the Buyer’ events, organised at BeerX by the government’s UK Trade & Investment arm, aimed to drive that trend with almost 200 one-to-one appointments between brewers and 26 buyers from 13 different countries.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, the first of a series of SIBA-commissioned surveys among consumers aims to give the industry a better understanding of the craft beer market.
Presented by Simon Stenning of research firm M&C Allegra, the first wave of results shows that drinkers are becoming more discerning. Around half appreciate the difference between global and local producers and nine in 10 people want to learn more about the different styles of beer.
A third is looking for more information from brewers, and nearly two-thirds said not enough tasting notes are provided.
Some 16% of the survey said they are drinking more beer these days, with that growth driven by younger people and women – 24% of whom say they are increasingly likely to order a beer.
“Consumers want excellence, genuine provenance and choice, and they want knowledge,” said Benner. “For the vast majority of people who say they don’t like beer what they really mean is ‘I haven’t found a beer I like’ - which was understandable when the choices were so limited
“But the flavour spectrum has expanded massively in recent years and this has gone a long way to attracting new drinkers, including women.
“Just as wine drinkers understand the importance of different grape varieties, today’s beer drinkers are increasingly curious about different styles and what gives each beer its unique flavours.”