Decline in pub drinking drives beer sales down

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sales Beer Alcoholic beverage Mintel

Mintel's research says the share of beer trade from pubs is down but has risen slightly in restaurants
Mintel's research says the share of beer trade from pubs is down but has risen slightly in restaurants
A decline in the number of people drinking in pubs has led to beer sales dropping by £2.2m this year, according to new data released by Mintel, although sales in restaurants rose slightly as the trend for matching beer with food grew..

The data indicates that, like wines and spirits, the beer industry has been hit by a move from drinking in pubs and bars to drinking in home but, unlike wines and spirits, the volume sales in the off-trade for beer have also dropped in the period.

The beer market was worth £17.7bn five years ago but in 2011 revenues will be just £15.5bn. Volume sales have decreased by 23 per cent since 2006 to 3.2bn litres litres this year.

Share of beer sales in pubs down

The senior drinks analyst at Mintel, Jonny Forsyth, said: “The economic downturn and rising differential between on and off trade beer and alcohol prices has hit the pub trade heavily and led to more UK consumers migrating to in home drinking. Beer has been particularly badly hit - it suffers from being perceived as less suited than its competitors for in home drinking. This is because its male user bias makes it less of a compromise choice for couples than wine or spirits, and it is less associated with food matching or relaxing occasions than either of those drinks categories."

The share of sales for beer that came from off-trade was 46.8 per cent in 2009 but last year it rose to 49.1 per cent, according to Mintel. However volume sales for beer from off-trade still declined to 2.25bn litres. Sales in pubs accounted for 39.7 per cent of the total two years ago but in 2010 it was down to 38.3 per cent. The big winners are the supermarkets as their share of sales jumped to just under 40 per cent.

Volume sales share in restaurants rises

Mintel claim the alcohol duty rises and less alcohol consumption generally can not wholly explain the slump in the beer trade as wines and spirits have not been as badly hit. Instead, they argue the beer industry has been too slow to respond and try to appeal to a wider market through flavour or alcohol content changes.

The share of the total sales for beer that come from restaurants has seen a small rise from 0.4 per cent in 2009 to 0.6 per cent last year. Forsyth said: "The share of beer sales in restaurants remains tiny. However, volume sales in this channel did grow as more beer brands try to position themselves as complimenting food."

Last month BigHospitality reported that master beer sommelier Mark Stroobandt believed UK restaurants were not yet giving the drink the respect as a sales driver it deserved​.

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