An analysis of the latest beer sales data in New Zealand has revealed a revenue hole of $200m for bars, pubs and restaurants caused by the COVID closures.
Combining information from Stats NZ and Nielsen Scan shows on-premise beer sales dropped significantly in first half of 2020 but the slack for brewers was to some extent picked up by sales in supermarkets and bottle stores.
The data shows that craft beer sales have bounced back from an initial Covid-19 kick and there was also a small lift in classic styles as Kiwis moved their drinking from the pub to the home.
Stats NZ data shows that, for the first six months of 2020, total beer available for consumption was 125.2 million litres. The was down 8m litres on the same period last year when 133.3m litres was available for consumption.
Overlaying Nielsen Scantrack data for the same periods shows a big uplift in grocery sales to compensate for pubs being closed, and then while working on reduced patronage from March to late May.
Beer volume in grocery (supermarkets and bottle stores) for the first half of 2020 totalled 105.5 million litres compared with 96 million litres in 2019, a jump of 9.4 per cent in the pandemic window.
The numbers mean the damage to on-premise sales thanks to Covid-19 was a decline of around 16 million litres – a revenue hole of $200m for bars, pubs and restaurants. Given craft makes up about 30 per cent of on-premise sales, it means a production drop of around 5 million litres of beer in that sector.
The figures mirror the situation in Australia where this week the Australian Hotels Association (Victoria) suggested hotels were losting $2000 a day due to continued lockdowns.
Craft also suffered a heavy blow at the start of lockdown when supermarkets were forced to reduce the range of alcohol they supplied to keep their under-pressure supply chains operating. During a period when Kiwis indulged in some panic buying, preference was given to bigger brands.
The good news for New Zealand’s smaller breweries is that despite craft sales dipping when New Zealand moved to Level 4 lockdown in late March, there was a strong bounce back when things settled down in April and May. Nielsen scan data shows craft sales jumped 20 per cent in the 13 week period until the end of June.
That bounce-back allowed craft to maintain its recent annual growth of around 12 to 13 per cent, with sales up 14 per cent in the first six months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.
What Nielsen calls “classic” beer – everything from Steinlager to Tui, Speight’s and DB Export – grew 5 per cent in the first half of 2020, well ahead of its recent performance. Much of this growth was attributed to mainstream drinkers being forced to shift their consumption from the pub to home.
There was also a period where alternative choices were limited.
The real winner in the period – and continuing its recent star status – were beers in the “lighter” section, specifically low carb options. This sector jumped a massive 39 per cent in the six-month pandemic period, up from around 7m litres to 10m litres.
There was a spike of 50 per cent in the 13 weeks to end of June. Overall, this light beer category is not far behind craft in total sales.
International lager grew 7.7 per cent in the period.
The only loser in the first half of 2020 was flavoured beer which fell 4.4 per cent.
Litres of beer sold in grocery (supermarkets and liquor stores) for first six months of 2020 vs 2019
|Classification||26 weeks to June 28, 2020||28 weeks to June 30, 2019||Change|
|T. Total Beer||105,496,569||96,421,414||9.4%|
|T. Lagers Of The World||34,926,870||32,440,432||7.7%|
|T. Lighter Options||10,015,704||7,202,808||39.1%|