Heineken launched its new Maltsmiths range in cans earlier this year

Heineken launched its new Maltsmiths range in cans earlier this year

The trend for craft beer in cans has transferred from the US to the UK, new Nielsen research has revealed, with the booming format now accounting for a quarter of the market.

The number of canned craft beers sold in UK off licences and multiple grocers jumped by 327% from January to August this year, Nielsen said today. The biggest increase was in grocery multiples, which increased sales by 349%.

Nielsen said the rise was down to changing attitudes as consumers, especially Millennials, look for packaging that is lightweight and easily recyclable. Production barriers have also lowered, with canning plants able to do lower-volume orders for independent brewers.

The change in UK attitudes to canned beer, which was previously seen mainly as a format for big volume multi-pack beer, mirrors an earlier shift in the US, where canned beer has established itself as the format of choice for the craft category. Cans have premiumised to the extent that mainstream brewers such as Constellation Brands have moved some of their brands into the packaging. Constellation's Corona Extra saw sales surge after the company invested in the canned format in 2015.

When Heineken launched its new craft-style beer range Maltsmiths earlier this year, the brewer chose a 33cl can format alongside a 33cl glass bottle. Maltsmiths is targetted at younger consumers looking to enter the craft beer category.

Martin Constable, chairman of UK trade body the Can Makers, said the success of canned craft beer had sparked interest in the format from adult soft drinks and cocktails. "The growth of the canned craft beer market over the past year has exceeded expectations and has paved the way for other craft drinks' makers to enter the market," Constable said.

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