Beer sales decline, even in the off-trade

22 December, 2011

New figures have painted a gloomy picture of the UK beer market.

Mintel says the category was worth £17.7 billion in 2006, falling to £15.5 billion in 2011 – a £2.2 billion decline. Volumes have fallen by almost a quarter over that period.

Although the off-trade’s share of the market has gone up, the take-home trade has also seen volumes fall, from 2.38 billion litres in 2006 to 2.25 billion litres in 2010.

Jonny Forsyth, senior drinks analyst at Mintel, 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.”

Lager dominates the overall beer category and has therefore seen a greater loss of revenue over the past six years than ale and stout. Lager sales are down from £12.7 million in 2006 to £11.4 million in 2011 – a 10% decrease.

In 2011, the value of the ale sector has fallen to £3.3 billion and stout £855 million. However, within the market, all beer types are struggling.

Forsyth added: “The beer sector has not helped itself by being slow to respond to the decline of the market – and for too long thinking, or hoping, that falling numbers were just a blip. Beer suffers from being perceived as less suited than its competitors for in home drinking.”

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