The value of global beer sales is set to outpace volume over the next four years as the category continues to “premiumise”, analysts predict.

Value sales are set to grow at a 3.9% five-year CAGR between 2023-2028, according to drinks analysts at GlobalData, Just Drinks’ parent company.

Volume sales, meanwhile, are predicted to see a slower five-year CAGR of 1.3%.

Kevin Baker, head of global beer and cider research at GlobalData, said the move towards premium products had been happening for “ten years plus” and was “ultimately a value-driven proposition”.

Between 2019 and 2022, volume beer sales’ CAGR declined 0.1%, while value grew 3%.

“One of the things that happens during economic crises is people drink more premium beer, which seems really counterintuitive until you realise it’s actually to do with value for money,” Baker told delegates at the International Beer Strategies Conference in Porto, Portugal, last week.

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“When we ask people in our surveys: ‘What does good value mean to you?’ They say it means high-quality products and ingredients.

“So if you’ve got more-limited money to spend, you don’t want to waste it, you want to spend on something that seems to be worthwhile.”

In 2022, the ‘super premium’ and ‘premium’ beer categories grew 5.8% and 5.6% respectively, compared to the previous year, according to GlobalData. These two price segments formed just over a quarter of beer sales in 2022.

This compares to ‘mainstream’ beer, which grew 2.3% and accounts for 60% of beer sales, and ‘discount’ beer, which dropped 1.8% on 2021, holding a 13% share.

Separately at the conference, Damm international business unit director Juan Gonzalez said the maturity of a market can also influence spend on alcoholic beverages – the more mature, the higher the spend.

“How people drink beer, how people drink alcohol, changes a lot depending on the level of maturity in the market,” he said. “So when we look at our markets in the Damm group, we classify them into ‘early stage of maturity’ and ‘later stage of maturity’.”

When markets mature, there is risk of drinkers leaving the category to find non-alcoholic beverages or “something more sophisticated” than beer, he said.

In order to stem the loss of consumers, he said: “The segment to play in is world beer lager.” In the UK, he estimated this segment – which includes brands like Damm, Peroni and Moretti – forms 30% of beer sales.

Internal research at Damm has shown premium, craft and world lagers have taken tap share in UK pubs from standard lagers and traditional cask ales. Gonzalez noted a “clear differentiation” within premium lager (4% abv), world beer lager and craft beer in 2024, with each segment now taking two or three taps compared to a combined five taps for all “premium” beers on average in 2018.

“What we see now, only five years down the road, is that everything has changed,” he said. “The standards are losing relevance.”

For Damm, world beer is the segment with most potential for growth. Gonzalez said UK consumers are not brand loyal within premium beers and regularly drink from two or more brands, so launching (or relaunching) beers and NPD is essential. “If you have only one world beer lager in your repertoire, you're missing half of the opportunity,” he said.