Commenting on the shortages of draught beer such as Birra Moretti, experienced by operators in recent weeks, he said that demand for BrewDog’s keg formats had been bigger than forecast – both from its own estate of bars and its larger national and independent customers.
He said that while consumers had not stopped drinking beer during the pandemic, “the channel and format mix has changed very rapidly at various points over the past year”. “I think suppliers have found it difficult, in the same way as operators, to deal with the uncertainty on schedule, and also that level of uncertainty on what consumer confidence is going to be,” he said.
Comparing consumer confidence and demand over the past few weeks to what happened in the summer of last year, McDowall said “it feels to me there is certainly less reticence around visiting cafes, pubs and restaurants, and far more latent demand that we saw last summer”.
Discussing consumer preferences, he said that there was a clear trend for people to spend more when purchasing alcohol, both on and off trade. “We have had a real spike in demand over the past four weeks for premium lager and for Lost Lager, our premium brand,” added McDowall.
More premium products
Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies agreed there was a trend towards greater numbers of consumers purchasing premium drinks as people have more money in their pockets – something he says he been the case throughout the past year. “There is no doubt people are looking to treat themselves. We are definitely selling more premium products than we expected,” he said.
Davies added that any issues around supply of products to his pubs were particularly focused on the premium brands, and that there were certain products Hawthorn couldn’t get enough of at the moment.