2017 Market Insights

Forty-seven companies contributed to this year’s Annual Barrelage Survey, the industry’s definitive measure of the UK beer market. The headline result being that beer sales were 0.7% higher in 2017 compared to the previous year.

As usual the tables and report are free to all members of the BBPA, if you would like to receive a copy then please contact me. But non-members don’t need to be too concerned – the report is available in our shop here.

So just how much beer was sold?

In total, Brits enjoyed over 7.75 billion pints of the nation’s favourite drink, that’s 21.2 million pints every single day. Or to put it another way 28.9 million kegs plus 4.9 million casks plus 3.2 billion cans plus 3.3 billion bottles. Or 1,762 Olympic swimming pools!

So what insights can we gauge from the report? Here are three interesting insights that paint us a picture of the world of beer in 2017.

Pubs are under increasing pressure

The long term trend seeing people favour a beer at home over their local has continued. 53.1% of beer sold in the UK was sold through the off trade in 2017, the highest this figure has ever been. Of course there are many social factors driving this trend. The home is a very different place than it was in 2000 due to improvements in home technology. People also tend to have less leisure time than they used to, as well as the rise of social media which means you no longer need to leave your house to see friends.

However, what is surely the biggest driver is the rapid increase in the price of a pint in pubs. In fact, in the last ten years, the price of beer in the on trade has increased by 28.6%. This compares with an increase of 8.5% in the off trade. Pub-specific cost pressures like business rates, which sees pubs pay an unfair burden of the total high street bill. As well as the National Living Wage and VAT means it looks likely that this worrying trend will continue into the future. Pubs are also reeling from crippling duty increases of over 42% between 2008 and 2012. Three cuts and a freeze had relieved some pressure on pubs since then but last year’s 3.9% hike has increased the challenge further.

Draught Ale innovation

Back in 2000 Nitro Keg Ale was the most popular style of keg ale with 42.2% market share. Fast forward to 2017, Nitro Keg Ale volumes have fallen 69.2%. Contrast this with Cask Ale which has been relatively resilient to market pressures over the same period and now comprises 57.9% of the market for draught ale.

However, in 2017 it is Traditional Keg Ale which is the category in growth with volumes increasing by 9.6% last year. There is certainly a large appetite for draught ale currently and this “new wave” of keg beers is being driven by new tastes in the market but also through innovation by new and existing brewers. Changing tastes are always difficult to predict and it will be interesting to see if this continues in future years.

The rise of No and Low Alcohol Beers

No and Low Alcohol Beers have always been of interest to consumers and industry alike, however sales remained stagnant for a long time. Since 2013 we have observed an exponential rise in sales of these beers. In fact, in 2017 alone volumes increased by 25.9% while volumes have grown by a staggering 150% in the last four years. No and Low still only account for 0.5% of the market however so there is room for even more growth. Whether this trend is driven by demand for a healthier alternative or an improved supply of quality products through brewing innovations we welcome this interesting trend.