With total beer volumes in decline, independent craft beer has been called the category’s shining light, now accounting for 10 per cent of the total beer market by value.
At a briefing with members last week, Independent Brewers Association Chair Jamie Cook revealed data obtained by the association showing the continued growth of the sector.
The data, sourced by the IBA from the Australian Tax Office, showed independent craft beer has grown to a 5.9 per cent share of total volume, up from just over one per cent in 2011, when the association was formed.
The data also showed that independent beer holds a 10 per cent share of value or, put another way, one in every ten dollars Australians spend on beer is spent on independent beer.
Discussing the figures with Brews News’ ‘Beer is a Conversation‘ podcast, Cook said independent beer now has scale.
“Back in June last year, independent beer was growing 25 per cent year-on-year to hold 5.9 per cent of the market,” Cook said.
“The great thing is that number really shows that independent beer has got scale now.
“And with the larger brewers really having no or little growth in the market, we’re seeing the share continue to shift towards independent beer, which is a great result.”
Cook said that this share was after accounting for the loss of volume through craft brewery sales to large breweries.
“As those breweries had been acquired, they’d been backed out of that data and so we just continue to see that volume being replaced,” he said.
“I’m sure the growth might’ve been a bit higher if you can include those breweries, however, in the background, we’re just seeing the true independence continued to grow nicely.
“I think the emerging number when you actually look at the share-of-value, which is a really important thing to look at when you’re looking at the small end of town as obviously, we can’t compete on price as much as the big guys.”
Cook said that the strong growth is being fuelled by long term shifts in society.
“What’s driving consumers, that desire, is an authenticity, personal relationships with brands, diversity of flavour, localism and true connection,” he said.
“All those things, long term shifts in society that we’re seeing across all sorts of markets, particularly in the food and beverage space, and that’s really what’s, in behind that growth in independent beer.”
The ATO data revealed that there are now 472 excise paying entities, a more concrete measure of the number of breweries currently operating in the country.
Cook said this number didn’t include some ‘gypsy’ and contract brewers, though he said the ATO number was probably closer to the actual number of breweries operating than the 619 recorded in website craftbeerreviewer.com.
The IBA figures, which are available in a PowerPoint produce by the IBA, also revealed that 64 per cent of IBA brewer members have adopted the independence seal.
To listen to the full discussion about the IBA data, you can listen to the ‘Beer is a Conversation‘ podcast here. It is also available on iTunes, Spotify and your favourite podcast aggregator