Beer - UK - December 2014
“Immigration into the UK from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria looks set to continue in the coming years. The time may therefore now be right for retailers and brands alike to roll out beers from these countries more widely in the UK, particularly as the major beer companies such as Heineken and SABMiller already own many of the breweries.”
– Chris Wisson, Senior Drinks Analyst
This report looks at the following areas:
- Older consumers could be key for the craft beer segment
- Capitalising on Britain’s changing population
- Leveraging beer and food matching
- What could the removal of the beer tie mean for the industry?
Beer continues to dominate the alcoholic drinks landscape, with 67% of adults drinking beer in the six months to September 2014. However, the category has struggled in the post-recession years as consumers continue to cut back on alcohol in general, and a rising number of drinkers switched into other categories such as cider.
Nevertheless, beer is now fighting back. Buoyed by favourable government intervention in the past two Budgets, it is expected to return to volume growth in 2014. This volume growth is being driven entirely by the off-trade as the on-trade continues to struggle largely due to its unfavourable comparison on price. Several segments such as flavoured and lower-alcohol beers continue to post encouraging growth, suggesting a brighter immediate future for the market.
Lifted by the new industry campaign ‘There’s a Beer for That’, beer and food pairing is expected to become an even more visible theme in the coming years. Looking to upgrade how beer is served and presented in the on-trade, to match the premium taste, could help to retain this volume growth and allow both the on- and off-trade channels to achieve volume growth in the coming years.
This report looks at the UK market for beer sold in both the on-trade, ie out-of-home outlets such as pubs, restaurants and clubs where the drink is consumed on the premises, and the off-trade (or take-home) market, eg supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores.
The beer market is divided into three main segments:
- Lager can broadly be described as a light/amber, clear, carbonated beer brewed with pale-kilned malts which, after fermentation, is filtered, pasteurised and conditioned before being packaged in cans, bottles or kegs for sale.
Lagers were often previously loosely defined as premium/standard/economy, based on their alcohol content. However, this picture is now changing as many beers reduce their ABV slightly and as lower-alcohol beers become more popular, benefiting from government tax breaks on beers with an ABV of 2.8% or less.
Spirit- and fruit-flavoured beers are also included within lager in this report.
- Ale is sometimes referred to by consumers as mild or bitter, but the term ‘ale’ is used throughout this report. This refers to top-fermented beers including bitter and mild, pale, export and brown ales, stout, porter, barley wine and strong ales, as well as Indian and American pale ales, among others. These beers are so-called because the yeast floats to the surface during fermentation, as opposed to lagers, which are bottom-fermented. Barley wine is simply a beer with a very high ABV.
Cask ales are pulled by hand pump and oxidise in an aerobic environment once opened, which demands quick throughput to maintain optimum condition and means they are served from a cask without additional carbon dioxide or nitrogen pressure. Cask ales go through a process of ‘secondary fermentation’ while being stored in pubs, meaning that each barrel often has a unique taste. They are sometimes referred to by consumers and/or the trade as ‘real ale’. However, the definition of real ale also includes ales which are bottle conditioned.
Alcoholic ginger beer and bitter are also included within ales in this report.
- Stout is a derivative of porter, originally an 18th century brown mild ale. Stout is a black, dense beer, which is usually top-fermented, and made with dark roasted barley and an abundance of hops, which provide the characteristic flavour. Both on- and off-trade sales are included in the UK market size. Value sales throughout this report are at consumer prices. Market sizes at constant 2014 prices are devised using Mintel’s alcoholic drinks deflator.
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