The BBPA's reason for optimism is because the 3.4% decline was, in part, explained by the Rugby World Cup last year improving volume sales – and, when compared with 2014 instead, volumes have still grown year on year.
Quarterly beer sales hit a low in the second quarter of 2013, but have since stabilised after years of decline – and have not dropped below this level since that date.
The BBPA claims the change is due to tax policy with three beer duty cuts and a freeze in the past four Budgets helping to keep the price of beer affordable. Beer duty is now 17% lower than it would have been under the previous beer duty escalator.
Government help required
BPBA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the challenges of Brexit meant that the industry still needed to lean on Government.
She said: "It is vital we continue to enjoy supportive tax policies that boost consumer confidence in beer and pubs. We do need to see further beer tax cuts, so that we can compete with our European neighbours when we leave the EU, as many of these countries benefit from substantially lower tax rates on beer.”
Work to do
David Cunningham, programme director of the Britain's Beer Alliance-backed campaign There's A Beer For That, said: “Despite category volume growth remaining fragile, value growth continues to improve year on year. We continue to track positive changes in consumer attitude and behaviour towards beer.
"Beer penetration, usage and consideration have improved year on year, and people are increasingly choosing to drink a beer with their meal in pubs, bars, restaurant and at home. However, there is still plenty of work to be done collectively to demonstrate beer's quality, diversity and versatility.”