Beer trends to make 2024 a 'positive year'

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Positive year for beer: CGA shares key trends for 2024 (Credit: Getty/Ridofranz)
Positive year for beer: CGA shares key trends for 2024 (Credit: Getty/Ridofranz)

Related tags Beer Cga Trends

Beer sales by value are outpacing sales by volume but pubs are driving growth for the category, with key trends set to make 2024 a “positive year for beer” in the on-trade.

Shared during a recent webinar with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH), the CGA On Premise Measurement Service revealed sales by value from all drinks categories were flat last year.

However, despite a “challenging” year all round in 2023, the beer category “comfortably outpaced” this trend, according to the data, with overall growth of 3%, largely powered by pubs.

CGA by NIQ client director GB Paul Bolton said: “Despite ongoing economic pressures, beer ended 2023 in a strong position vs. most other categories, with the overall success of the pub a big factor in sales growth.”

Although other segments “struggled to match” 2022 numbers, beer sales in food led and community pubs rose 4% and 2% respectively, with restaurants, bars and nightclubs all saw beer revenues fall.

However, beer sales also saw a 4% drop in distribution and a 1% fall in sales by volume last year, despite having attracted 42.9% of all drinks spending in the on-premise in 2023, up by 1.3 percentage points year-on-year.

Though some of this came at the expense of the spirits category, CGA added, which lost 1.5 percentage points of share of total drinks sales.

Premiumisation trends 

No and low serves presented the beer category with come competition last year, with 22% of consumers choosing pints of beer or cider less often and migrating to cheaper or low alcohol alternatives and soft drinks.

A fifth (19%) of consumers also now buy these more often, CGA stated, more than the number buying them less (18%), while 78% of category consumers were drinking the same amount of beer or more. 

While a squeeze on spending has led some people to drink fewer beers, many opted for better options when they do so.

Asked about purchases if their total spend were the same, three in five said (60%) siad they would buy one or two high quality drinks—much more than the number (40%) who would buy three, four or five cheaper ones. 

This comes as analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by The Morning Advertiser recently revealed the cost of a pint of draught lager in pub increased by 10.8%​ in the year to January 2024, rising from £4.23 to £4.69.

Unsurprisingly, draught serves took the majority of all beer volumes in 2023, accounting for 94.1% of last year’s trade, while packaged volumes were down 5.9% and no and low alcohol beers saw an increase of 28.6%, indicating abstinence could be a key trend for 2024 CGA said.

Of all the sub-categories measured, premiumisation trends helped make world lager the clear winner last year with a 23.3% share of the Long Alcoholic Drinks (LAD) section, up 2.6% percentage points year-on-year.

In addition, draught world lager was stocked in more than two-thirds (69.1%) of outlets by the end of 2023.

Special occasions 

Though standard lager sales dropped 1.4 percentage points year-on-year, to 20.8%.

Stout was another sub-category winner, with sales up 18% and taking an 8.1% share of the LAD market.

Moreover, Stout’s target market is “widening fast”, with CGA’s BrandTrack research showing more women, younger adults and professionals are embracing the serve. 

However, the cask category saw a 5.7% drop in sales volume, losing some of its share to Stout, though craft keg sales provided a “rare bright spot” despite flat sales.

“The particular success of World Lager, Stout and No/Low brands, as consumers look for new favourites, quality and value for money, mean 2024 is expected to be another positive year for beer”, Bolton continued.

In addition, the report showed sporting events had driven beer sales in pubs, with venues having seen an average uplift of 23% on matchdays during last year’s Rugby World Cup and the ongoing Six Nations predicted to have a similar impact.

Bolton added: “Making the most out of special occasions in the pub will be key [for growth in 2024], with live sport and particularly the Euros in June/July a huge part of that.”

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