Beer consumption decreased by four percentage points over the 2020 lockdowns and total beer sales in 2020 fell by 14.2%, data from the British Beer and Pub Association’s (BBPA) 2021 Statistical Handbook has revealed.
The percentage of alcohol consumed through wine in the UK increased by two percentage points, while consumption of spirits rose by two percentage points from 2019 to take its overall UK share of alcohol intake to 26%.
Damage to breweries
Brits consumed 33% of their alcohol through beer and another 33% through wine, compared to 37% for beer and 31% for wine in 2019.
Typically, seven in 10 alcoholic drinks served in a pub are beer and the BBPA has stated the numbers demonstrate the damage of lockdowns to brewers, who lost a key route to market when pubs were forced to close during the lockdowns of 2020.
BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Lockdowns and the shutting of pubs in 2020 meant Brits drank more wine and spirits, but less beer than in previous years.
“With the pubs closed, it’s clear people turned to wine and spirits from shops and supermarkets rather than beer and because of this, overall beer sales in 2020 fell by 14.2%; in short, sales in supermarkets didn’t make up for sales lost from closed pubs.
“It goes to show that when people visit the pub, they primarily drink beer, which, on average, is 4.2% ABV, the lowest strength alcohol category and so ideal for moderate consumption.”
Modernising the alcohol duty regime
At the recent Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled changes to modernise the alcohol duty regime in the UK to better incentivise the consumption of lower-strength drinks such as lower alcohol beer, which the BBPA hopes will aid British beer in growing market share once more, along with the reopening of pubs in 2021 where consumers are more likely to choose beer on draught over wine or spirits.
McClarkin added: “It is great to see the Chancellor recognise this and promote lower strength alcohol drinks with his changes to the UK alcohol duty regime announced in the recent Budget.
“With pubs open and trading again in 2021, we hope customers will revert to choosing a beer at their local, a safe and managed space at the heart of communities throughout the UK.”