Small brewers report 82% decline in beer sales with many struggling to survive

Small independent breweries have reported a decline in beer sales of 82% since the outbreak of coronavirus, with many businesses struggling to survive, according to the latest research. 

The survey of 282 UK breweries, conducted by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), revealed eight out of ten brewers do not believe the government is doing enough to support them, with more than half (54%) unable to access any government support.

Almost a third (29%) are now considering redundancies, according to the survey.

Although beer production is considered to be an “essential business” as it is part of the food and drink supply chain, the main route to market for many independent breweries has been cut off now that pubs, bars and restaurants are closed, SIBA said. As a result of this 65% of breweries have stopped production altogether.

SIBA chief executive, James Calder, said: “Unlike the global beer brands that can supply supermarkets in great volume, small independent breweries sell the majority of their beer through pubs, bars and restaurants, meaning the lock-down measures have hit them much harder.

“While many have launched local delivery services or online shops to try to stay afloat, the increase in online sales is a drop in the ocean compared with the overall decrease their beer sales have seen. Pubs, bars and restaurants have been receiving help from the government, but none of the same schemes apply to our small breweries that saw their sales fall off a cliff almost overnight. They urgently need a package of measures to keep them going otherwise many won’t be able to reopen.”

SIBA is working together with the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) on the Pulling Together initiative, which links independent breweries and pubs offering beer delivery and takeaway services with beer lovers across the UK. 

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