TAX changes have benefited beer sales in Britain in recent years and continuing pressures on pubs have seen sales move to the off-trade, says market analysis firm Key Note.
But the overall beer market still faces significant challenges and is also going through a period of significant change in which established mainstream brands of lager are coming under increasing pressure from craft beers and other specialist lines. The analyst reckons the period ahead will see modest sales value growth in beer overall and it predicts new generations of beer fans will vote with their throats and will ensure a swing away from lager and towards dark beer, which includes all ales (some of which these days are actually quite light-coloured) and stouts.
Key Note’s Breweries and the Beer Market 2014 says that in 2013 the UK beer market, covering both on and off-trade, was estimated to have increased in value by 1.5%. It was the third consecutive year of growth, a trend that showed in had been helped by the scrapping of the beer duty escalator and by cuts in duty.
Across its review period of 2009 – 2013 sales value of lager had declined by 0.7% but sales value of the dark beer had shown growth of 3.3%. However, in 2013 lager was worth £12.2bn, which was still roughly 2.4 times the value of dark beer.
The report says that sales growth in 2014 is likely to be significant thanks to good weather and major sporting events taking place in Britain and elsewhere.
That may lead to what it calls a sales hangover in 2015 and it is forecasting a 1% decline in sales value in that year. From 2016, however, Key Note expects the market to return to steadier year-on-year growth resulting in cumulative growth of between 0.3% and 1.4% over three years.
It expects dark beer to increase sales value by 4.6% over the period but reckons lager sales will be up by only 0.7%.