Beer production from independent brewers up

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Beer production from independent breweries in 2024

Related tags Beer Craft beer Brewing Cask ale

Average beer production volumes among independent breweries have risen by 14% compared with 2023, new research has revealed.

The data, from the Society of Independent Brewers and Associates (SIBA)’s Independent Beer Report 2024​, showed volumes returned to pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

Furthermore, the report stated cask beer had seen an increase with volumes up 10% year on year.

It also featured YouGov research commissioned by the trade body that showed a growing consumer pull for independent craft beer with more than half (55%) of beer drinkers saying they now drink local craft beer – this was up from 47% in 2023.

Strong demand

SIBA chief executive Andy Slee said: “Demand for local, independently brewed beer in the UK is strong, with independent brewers reporting production volumes up, meaning they have returned to 2019 volumes again.

“The short-term issue for small independent breweries isn’t demand, it’s profitability, rising costs and financial pressures such as lingering Covid debt.

Five causes for concern

  1. Some 43% of SIBA members reporting survival is their main priority is still too high, according to the trade body.
  2. Less than a third (30%) of 18-to-24-year-olds ever drink beer – this was behind wines and spirits while nearly a quarter (24%) said they never visit their local pub.
  3. Distribution of independent British beer in tied pubs has fallen behind the demand for it.
  4. Growth has continued to be stifled by access to finance, which remains a challenge.
  5. The average selling price for keg beer into the on-trade has risen just 6% since 2019 and some routes, including wholesale, have seen prices fall.

“Far too many breweries are simply trying to survive rather than thrive so while there are many positive signs highlighted in the report, for now it’s cautious optimism.”

The data also showed on-trade beer sales fell by 0.4% in 2023, which was just over 12% below 2019 levels despite having surged by 41% in 2022 as business recovered from the pandemic.

Beer styles

Some 42% of beer sales were made in the on-trade last year – this was up from 41% in 2022.

Five causes for optimism

  1. SIBA members reporting beer production volumes up 14% since the last report, overtaking pre-pandemic levels for the first time with cask volumes up 10% year-on-year.
  2. More than six in 10 (65%) of members said they had made positive steps towards becoming more sustainable in the past year.
  3. There have only been 1% fewer brewers in the UK today than a year ago, despite high profile casualties.
  4. Some 55% of beer consumers how drink local craft beer. This was up from 47% in 2023 and puts it level with the 55% who drink global lager.
  5. While 43% of SIBA members cited ‘survival’ as their main priority, this was down from 63% last year.

Elsewhere, the report tracked brewing trends such as beer styles produced by breweries. Lager continued its rise to number four this year with more than half (56%) of independent breweries now producing a craft lager. This was up on 2023’s survey and the biggest growth area for this year.

Non-alcoholic beer was also on the up and the number of breweries now making an alcohol-free beer now stands at 8%.

Slee added: “No and low-alcohol beer is massively increasing in popularity and thanks to new technologies, which make it easier to produce great tasting low or no-alcohol beer more independent breweries than ever are catering to this growing market.”

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