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One fifth not willing to pay £3 for a pint as lager sales fall

By Oli Gross , 15-Jan-2016
Last updated on 15-Jan-2016 at 10:59 GMT2016-01-15T10:59:21Z

One fifth not willing to pay £3 for a pint as lager sales fall

A fifth of UK beer drinkers are not willing to pay more than £2.99 for a pint, while lager sales are struggling amid increasing competition from ales and bitters, according to new research.

A study by market research company Mintel estimated that Brits drank 913 million litres of ale and bitter in 2015, up from 895 million litres in 2014.

But Britain's lager segment is struggling as it faces particularly strong competition fuelled by the craft beer boom.

Mintel senior drinks analyst Chris Wisson said: "Lager sales have plateaued in recent years, however, it could enhance its chances of growth by tapping into the craft beer movement more effectively.

"With the majority of craft beers available in both the on and off-trade falling into the ale and bitter segment, these beers have garnered considerable coverage in recent years. Many craft brewers have prioritised ales, brewing variants such as pale ale, for example IPA and golden ale, in turn driving the popularity of premium bottled ales."


  • Volume sales of lager fell from 3.18 billion litres in 2014 to an estimated 3.15 billion litres in 2015
  • Sales of lager have dropped by 8% over the past 5 years alone, down from 3.44 billion litres in 2010.
  • Brits are estimated to have consumed 4.25 billion litres of beer in 2015, down from 4.27 billion litres in 2014.
  • Value sales of beer growth slowed, rising slightly from £16.61bn in 2014, to £16.68bn in 2015.


But there are signs of growth in 2016 and Mintel forecasts value sales to reach £18.1 billion by 2020.  

"Overall, the beer market should benefit from greater craft innovation, as well as sales uplifts from events such as the Olympic Games and UEFA Euro 2016," Wisson added.

Some 49% of Brits drank lager in 2015, down from 54% in 2014.


Cost is having an effect on the nation's appetite for beer, with one fifth (20%) of UK beer drinkers not willing to pay more than £2.99 for a pint. But many, particularly in London, are happy to pay more amid the craft beer boom.

While some Brits are losing their love of lager, there is a rise in styles such as IPAs (Indian pale ales) in particular.

  • One fifth of UK drinkers are not willing to pay more than £2.99 for a pint.
  • Three in 10 (29%) beer drinkers are prepared to pay more than £4 per pint
  • In London, 27% are willing to pay more than £4.50.  
  • More than one quarter (27%) of Brits drink ale or bitter
  • One in five (20%) drink any type of craft beer

Wisson continued: "The steady rise in price over the past decade has given rise to notable consumer resistance in having to spend more on beer, particularly when it comes to breaking the £4, and even £5 barriers.

"Brands asking consumers to pay more for beer need to provide clear reasons for doing so, for example, via packaging or branded glassware, as well as delivering a discernibly superior taste to cheaper mainstream alternatives."


Finally, Mintel research finds that, for some consumers, it's not just the type of beer that's important.

The top three glassware preferences for out of home beer drinkers are the nonic (27%), the tulip (16%) and the tankard (14%).

One quarter (26%) of 18 to 24-year-old males beer drinkers state that their favourite type of glassware to drink pints from is the tankard when out of home.

The half pint, on the other hand, is more preferred by women, with one fifth (19%) of out-of-home female beer drinkers saying they most like to drink beer from this type of glass, compared to just 6% of men.       

Wisson concluded: "Tankards used to be a highly popular glass but fell out of favour in recent decades, largely due to their high production costs.

"However, there are significant advantages of this glass type, notably the handle which means that drinkers do not have to hold the body of the glass, warming their beer in the process. There are signs that the tankard is seeing a return in popularity as the favourite of younger male drinkers, most of whom were not drinking during the tankard's previous period in the spotlight, buoyed by the craft ale movement."