SIBA calls for clarity on craft brewery buyouts

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Craft secret: almost half (46%) of beer drinkers regard craft as made by small brewers
Craft secret: almost half (46%) of beer drinkers regard craft as made by small brewers

Related tags Beer drinkers Brewing Brewery

Beer drinkers need further clarity on who is behind their craft beer, according to a brewing industry experts.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has called for this following a number of buyouts of previously independent craft breweries in the UK by global beer companies, including Camden Town, Meantime, Sharp’s and most recently, London Fields Brewery.

Carlsberg UK bought London Fields Brewery​ just weeks after chief executive Julian Momen told The Morning Advertiser ​it planned to bolster its offer with the acquisition of a UK craft brewery and the deal will be carried out as a joint venture between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery.

SIBA chief executive Mike Benner outlined how previous research highlighted that drinkers define craft beer through it being made by small, independent brewers.

Capturing customers

He said: “Buyouts such as that of London Fields by global beer company Carlsberg are made in the hope of capturing the original customers and target market of an established, previously independent craft beer brewery – customer bases that were built on the back of the brewery being relatively small, independent and brewing quality, flavoursome beer.

“Consumers deserve to know that what they are buying is a genuine craft-brewed beer as research clearly shows most beer drinkers believe craft beer to be produced by relatively small, independent brewers.”

Market research commissioned by SIBA last year showed that almost half (46%) of beer drinkers regard craft beer as ‘made by small brewers rather than large corporations’, although one in 10 beer drinks are unsure what the term means.

More than a third (35%) regard craft breweries as artisanal with a fifth (22%) associating the term with small and 14% with local.

Benner added: “SIBA wants to see far greater clarity in the marketplace and as such, launched the Assured Independent British Craft Brewer​ campaign, whereby truly independent craft breweries and the beers they brew, can carry a seal highlighting them as such."

Genuine independent brewers

He said: “It’s a simple accreditation that can be instantly recognised by beer drinkers on bottles or cans on supermarket shelves or on pump clips at the bar.”

SIBA south-east regional director Ed Mason who also runs Five Point Brewing Co in London said the Carlsberg and London Fields Brewery deal caused uncertainty about the beer’s heritage.

He said: “London’s thriving independent craft beer scene has been built on the passion, investment, sweat and tears of genuine independent brewers and we know that beer drinkers care about the provenance of their beer.

“The purchase of the London Fields brand by Carlsberg raises a number of questions about genuine independence and ethics in the brewing industry.

“SIBA’s Assured Independent British Craft Brewer​ seal will help ensure that customers can tell which beers are truly independent.”

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