Beer Summit

How big can US beer become in the UK?

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Branching out: Lotte Peplow claims US beer exports don’t post a threat to UK brewers
Branching out: Lotte Peplow claims US beer exports don’t post a threat to UK brewers
US beer exports are growing in the UK, fuelled by consumer “curiosity and experimentation”, according to Lotte Peplow, european representative for The Brewers Association.

Speaking at The Morning Advertiser​’s Beer Summit event in Manchester, Peplow highlighted the growth of the UK as an export market for US brewers, and stated that “innovation and creativity” were the primary drivers of US beer sales to the UK.

“The US beer market sends 10.5% of its exports to the UK, and this figure is up 7.1% on last year,” she said. “This is being driven by both the innovation and creativity of US brewers – tearing up the rule book and brewing adventurous and exciting beer to the highest possible quality – but it's also the experimentation and curiosity of UK drinkers. People are always asking the questions: ‘what’s new?’ and ‘what haven’t I tried?’”

Variety driving sales

Peplow argued that US beer exports don’t post a threat to UK brewers because of the overlapping tastes of drinkers.

“Craft beer lovers are a promiscuous bunch,” she said. “A beer lover who enjoys craft beers from Cloudwater or Marble or Track will also enjoy American craft beer, and vice versa. American and British beer complement each other and one boosts sales of the other. They do not compete. We see this all over the world, variety drives sales and is a good thing.

“You may be thinking  I want to stock beers from my local community and support my local businesses. Yes, that’s important but beer lovers also want choice and this will help drive sales. The greater your range of authentic, interesting, envelope-pushing beers is, the more beer lovers you’ll attract.”

Lighter styles in growth

The Brewers Association now represents about 4,500 US breweries, and craft beer now makes up 12.7% of the market share in the US. Peplow said that key trends from the US market include the growth in popularity of lighter styles, beer and food pairing, cans and taprooms.

On the growing popularity of lighter styles, Peplow said: “Two factors are driving the growth of lighter styles. Firstly, craft beer drinkers who came into the category at its inception about 30 to 40 years ago are ageing and they’re looking at more sessionable styles that are lighter in ABV and calories from their favourite breweries.

“Secondly, lagers, blonde ales and sessionable styles are a good entry level for the young beer drinkers coming into the category for the first time.”

The Beer Summit was brought to you by The Morning Advertiser in association with Diageo and law firm TLT LLP. ​​

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