Community key to craft brewing: SIBA report

A new report from the United Kingdom has found how closely tied craft breweries are to their local communities.

The Society of Independent Brewers 2023 Craft Beer Report – which features new brewery survey data, industry analysis and commentary, as well as consumer research commissioned via YouGo – found eight out of ten people in the UK believe that a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community.

At the same time, 98 per cent of the society’s members said they consider their local community to be important to their business.

The report noted consumers are more conscious than ever, and small brewers are uniquely placed to tap into this trend.

“Consumers want to relate to a brand’s view of the world, they want to share opinions on ethical and social issues, and trust that brand to be true to its word,” the report reads.

“Consumers are increasingly looking to be involved in what brands are doing and thinking, to feel like ‘one of the team’ and will actively avoid buying products from businesses they believe are not socially or politically aligned to the causes they see as important to them.”

“Independent craft brewers hold a unique position within their communities, and are perfectly placed to embrace this consumer trend.

“Think about messaging on merchandise, local causes you are supporting, or even setting up a community values committee that brings together a group of local customers to decide on charity donations, organise community events or even decide on a strategy for tackling an issue such as diversity.”

While UK-focussed, the report is a wide-ranging snapshot of the state of the UK’s brewing and pub scene post-COVID, and highlights a number of key trends being seen in that market.

The report raised a number of concerns for the industry, including UK brewers were only able to increase their prices by two per cent during the year, representing a real-term fall in prices in an environment of double-digit inflation.

This comes at a time when price has risen to the second most important factor craft beer drinkers cite in choosing what beer to purchase, with 44 per cent citing it as a reason.

A significant fall in the overall number of consumers ever drinking beer was noted, especially among women, and more than a fifth of consumers say they no longer drink any alcohol.

SIBA’s YouGov survey showed the overall number of consumers who never drink alcohol has risen this year, having plateaued between 2020 and 2022.

“A fifth (20%) of consumers have now gone tee-total, and interestingly this is not due to a rise in the younger consumer group, 18-24-year-olds, as you might expect, but rather an incremental increase across a number of the older age groups,” the report noted.

“Most significantly, 20% of over 55s are now abstaining, up from 16% in last year’s survey.

“Interestingly, the number of 18-24-year-olds who drink alcohol has actually risen this year, albeit our survey suggests those who do drink alcohol are evidently not choosing to drink beer.”

This drove a 50 per cent increase in the number of SIBA member breweries producing a low or no alcohol beer, up from 10% at the start of last year to 15% at the beginning of 2023.

This was against the consumer survey showing 18 per cent drinking beer from the category, a rise of just 2 per cent on the 2022 survey.

Pub visits fell sharply in this year’s report, with more than a fifth of all consumers not visiting a pub in the last 12 months.

The report also noted that the craft beer sector is still failing to make in-roads on the issue of inclusion and diversity, with a continued and very significant over-representation of white males in the workforce.

The SIBA Craft Beer Report 2023 was launched this week at BeerX, the UK’s largest beer and brewing trade event. The report is published by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), the UK’s leading trade association for independent craft breweries, representing over 700 brewing businesses.

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