Number of UK breweries rises 8% in just a year as popularity of craft beer continues to soar

Publications that covered this story include: The Times, The I, The Daily Star, City AM, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Mirror, The Daily Express and Sky News; all 3 October 2016.
  • Popularity of craft beer sees the number of breweries hit almost 1,700 – up 65% in the last five years
  • Breweries becoming increasingly profitable businesses and attractive acquisition targets

According to our research, the total number of breweries in the UK has increased 8% in the last year alone, from 1,558 in 2014 to 1,692 in 2015*, as the popularity of craft beer continues to soar.

The number of breweries has now risen by 65% in the last five years, from 1,026 in 2010.

Craft beer has increasingly been seen as a luxury item by consumers in recent years. The popularity and highly regarded global reputation of these products has boosted a demand for craft breweries across the UK, creating opportunities for prospective entrepreneurs in the food and drinks industry.

Consumers are more willing to pay premium prices for a luxury product such as craft beer than for a more mainstream brand.

We explain that the rise of craft beer has driven the success of the UK’s boutique food and drink market. Craft beer, alongside other products such as fine wine and high quality cheese, has made a significant contribution to the profitability of the food and drinks industry.

Due to the increasing popularity of high quality craft beer, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has recently launched a new classification, “Assured Independent British Craft Brewers”, so that consumers can identify genuine UK craft beer.

It is also thought that the weakness of the pound that occurred as a result of Brexit will benefit the craft beer industry more than their more mainstream competitors, as these products are made locally and unlikely to be affected by any increase in import charges. International breweries however may have to increase their prices to compensate for the extra costs that they may face.

Microbreweries are increasingly launching in the UK as part of a growing trend towards artisan products within the food and drinks industry.

Breweries which have recently opened or are set to open in the UK include:

  • The team behind The Dockyard, a group of bars in Manchester, is set to open a microbrewery named The Gasworks Brewbar inside their bar on Manchester’s First Street.
  • Ten new microbreweries will operate from one location in Bermondsey under the open brewery, Ubrew.
  • Bradford Brewery launched in 2015 in Bradford city centre.

Following SAB Miller’s purchase of London’s Meantime Brewing Company in May 2015, other acquisitions of UK microbreweries by multinational brewing companies are likely.

As a result of acquisitions or investment from larger brewery companies, UK microbreweries may have the opportunity to invest funds into their business, which could lead to international expansion or extending their product lines.

We state that the success of UK microbreweries is also demonstrated by the growth of The Camden Town Brewery which, after opening in 2010, was purchased by AB InBev, the multinational brewing company, in December 2015 and is now expanding beyond Camden by opening a new brewery in Enfield.

James Simmonds, partner, comments: “Craft beer is leading the way in the surging popularity of artisan products and has pushed aside other brands in high street bars. Many are now firmly established household names.”

“This increasing popularity has transformed many microbreweries into highly profitable businesses for entrepreneurs looking for a niche position in the food and drinks market.”

“As a result of their success, microbreweries across the UK have also become attractive acquisition targets for larger breweries.”

“It is likely that larger breweries will continue to show too more and more interest in the smaller breweries that are popping up around the UK so they can benefit from the interest in craft beer”.

The number of breweries in the UK jumped 8% in just a year and 65% over five years

number-of-breweries

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* Year end 31 December 2015