Blog: Chris MercerBeer figures are not a full measure

Chris Mercer | 27 April 2011

A brief glance at the British Beer & Pub Association's sales chart would be enough to put off anyone of sound mind from getting involved in the sector, but they don't tell the whole story.

Beer sales in the UK sank by a further 4% in the first quarter of 2011, marking the seventh consecutive year that volumes have fallen in the first three months of a calendar year. Almost a fifth less beer was drunk in the three months to the end of March 2011 as in the same period a decade ago, according to a chart published by the British Beer & Pub Association today (27 April).

The major brewers are slashing costs in an effort to maintain profitability. Pubs are calling time all over the country.

And yet, if one listens to SABMiller and the Campaign for Real Ale, a totally different picture emerges. Consumers are, apparently, still content to guzzle SABMiller's high-end lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Similarly, local 'craft' ales have arguably not had it so good in the UK for a generation or more.

Added to this, there is more and more sense in the on-trade that the pubs closing down are the ones that have lost their relevance to today's consumer. We are witnessing change, for sure, but it's more of an evolution than a terminal decline of the beer industry.


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