What you need to know

Value sales in beer are expected to have seen slight annual growth of 1.2% in 2019 to reach £18.9 billion, driven by inflationary pressures, rising costs and premiumisation in the market. The same rise has not been seen in volume sales, with the market struggling to reach the levels seen in 2018, when the heatwave and FIFA World Cup provided a much-needed boost to volume sales.

The overall market is expected to see 16.4% over the five years to 2024 to reach £22 billion. A mature market, volume growth is expected to be 4.5% to reach 4.5 billion litres by 2024.

Consumers’ ongoing attempts to lead healthier lifestyles have continued to fuel the low-/no-alcohol beer trend, with 26% of beer drinkers/buyers drinking low-/no-alcohol beer. Growth in this segment is being driven by the younger generation, with usage rising to 47% among those aged 18-24. Concerns over taste still abound however, with 52% of beer drinkers/buyers citing noting that low-/no-alcohol versions do not taste as good as standard beer, indicating there is still some work to do in improving the user experience.

The popularity of craft beer is still apparent, with leading ale brand, BrewDog, experiencing strong growth while major supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose continue to expand their range to cater to consumers wishing to explore craft varieties.

Products covered in this Report

This Report looks at the UK (United Kingdom) 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 market, eg supermarkets, online, 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. Spirit- and fruit-flavoured beers are also included within lager in this Report.

  • Ale refers to top-fermented beers including bitter and mild, pale, export and brown ales, 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 (alcohol by volume).

  • Cask ales are pulled by hand pump and oxidised 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. Porter – a dark style of beer made from brown malt – is included within the definition of stout.

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