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Craft beer cannot be brewed by global brewers

The ground-breaking SIBA British Craft Beer Report 2019, launched at BeerX UK today, has revealed that 98% of consumers do not believe craft beer can be made by the likes of ABInBev, Molson Coors and Heineken, with just 2%* saying craft beer can be made by a Global Brewer.

The extensive report is the largest of its kind ever undertaken in the UK and pulls together existing consumer and industry research as well as newly commissioned surveying of consumers and independent brewers. Edited by former Morning Advertiser and current SIBA Journal Editor Caroline Nodder and Published by the Society of Independent Brewers, the report has been launched today at the BeerX UK trade show in Liverpool.

“Craft beer is the biggest thing to happen to the beer market in a generation, with more interest in quality beer than ever before. This new research clearly shows that consumers believe craft beer comes from small independent brewers and not the global beer companies. Just 2% of consumers surveyed said that craft beer could be made by a global brewer, whereas 43% – by far the largest group – said craft beer is made by small breweries.” Mike Benner, SIBA Chief Executive said.

In the SIBA YouGov survey carried out in February 2019 as part of the British Craft Beer Report research over 2,000 UK consumers were asked what the term ‘craft’ meant to them, and the results supported previous research on the subject which indicate that while there are multiple definitions of ‘craft’ there are some important common themes to its meaning. 

Whilst the largest proportion of respondents said craft beer should be made by a small brewer (43%), the next most popular answer was 42% who said the brewery must be independent – a number which shows it is significantly more important than the brewery being local to the consumer, which was selected by just 23% of people.

“The most striking thing about the survey results is the clarity with which consumers see the importance of the brewery’s size when defining ‘craft beer’, as apposed to the brewery simply being local to them. People are used to buying beers from across the UK in their favourite pub, bar or retailer, and for them it is the size and independence of that brewery which defines whether or not it is a craft beer.” Mike added.

This most recent YouGov survey supports the 2016 market research undertaken by SIBA which found that 46% of beer drinkers regard craft beer as ‘made by small brewers rather than large corporations’, something explored in great detail within the British Craft Beer Report. 

Global beer giants increasingly targeting ‘craft’

The British Craft Beer Report also explores how the continuing growth in popularity of craft beer has led to the global beer companies increasingly targeting the ‘craft’ segment of the market in two distinct ways – buying out previously independent craft breweries such as Camden, Meantime and Fourpure, or launching their own beers marketed as craft such as the Maltsmiths beers from Heineken or Hop House 13 from Guinness and Diageo.

“SIBA launched the ‘Assured Independent British Craft Brewer’ seal as a way of differentiating beer from truly independent craft brewers from the mass produced products of global brands – many of which are now being marketed as craft. This new research shows that if consumers were fully aware of what they were buying then they wouldn’t consider any beers from the global beer companies as craft, something which is hugely important for supporting and growing the independent beer market.” Mike Benner, Society of Independent Brewers.

This protection of authenticity in craft beer is a trend which can be seen happening across the globe, with the Brewers Association in America and a string of independent brewing trade associations across Europe fighting back with their own independence brewers seals alongside SIBA. 

“Consumers can now find the seal on pumpclips, bottles and cans to help them choose truly independent craft beers and better inform them about the provenance of the products they drink.” Mike added. 

SIBA say that a third of their members now use the seal on their pumpclips or keg fonts, with many more looking to add it soon as over 85% of brewers are now aware of the campaign.**

This consumer move towards choosing local is growing in pace, and is one of the key consumer trends highlighted by Mintel in its Global Trends report 2018, which fed in to the SIBA British Craft Beer Report. Indications are that the next generation of Millennials, and even more so Generation Z after that, will have a growing interest in local products as well as artisanal businesses.

The Mintel Global New Products Database research for 2018 shows that 44% of UK beer drinkers would like to see a system of certification for craft beer in the UK to show what is and what is not a truly small brewers’ craft beer. And the SIBA YouGov survey carried out in 2017 found that more than two-thirds (69%) of consumers thought it would be useful to see the Assured logo on beer pump clips, bottles and cans, in order to identify the beer as being brewed by a truly independent craft brewer, rather than a global beer company.

Download the 2019 Craft Beer Report here