Friday, 14 September 2007

Lager in the UK

Here are couple of apparently contradictory stories from The Publican about bottled lager in the UK. Whilst imported Czech lager is prospering, wonderful beers like Budweiser (the shitty US version) and Beck's are struggling. In the year to March 2007, Budweiser sales were down 10% , Beck's 6%.

Bottled Lager: Keep the faith

"Last month, Mintel research concluded that the downward trend in lager sales is
not just a summer blip but that the market will fall by eight per cent before 2012 to reach a point where 3.65 billion litres would be consumed that year – some 307 million litres down on this year’s sales."

"Nielsen’s research on the market in the 12 months to March 2007 concludes that “premium (‘premium’ is defined as lager above 4.3 per cent ABV, covering almost all bottled lager brands in the on-trade) bottled lager is now declining ahead of premium draught lager at minus seven per cent in the three months to March 2007”."

Market shares of bottled lagers in the UK:
Budweiser 33.7%
Beck's 15.2%
Corona 14.5%
Stella Artois 6.8%
Peroni 5.8%
Miller 4.7%
Others 20.3%

Bottled Lager: Czech invasion

"The story of Czech lager on these shores is an example of how to conquer a market – send in an advance guard of bottles and then follow up with draught."
You can't imagine how upset I am to hear about any fall in lager sales. Poor SABMiller and Inbev. How will they feed their children?


Stonch said...

It's funny how the trade press report things. Last month an article talked of a collapse in beer sales, but when you read more carefully it was revealed only thre piss poor macrobrew brands were suffering.

In years to come, I think the overall market for beer will shrink, but the quality sector will make up a larger chunk of what's left.

Ron Pattinson said...

You're almost certainly correct. I predict that sales of pale lager is about to go into a steep decline. I think it's already starting to happen in some places. Of course, another crap beer will appear to take its place . . .

Lew Bryson said...

Unfortunately, Ron, I think you're dead right about another crap beer appearing. All I have to do to assure myself of that is to look at the liquor selection in almost any bar: 20+ different brands of "luxury" vodkas that all taste the same and cost five times as much as they should. Most folks don't really want to taste their booze, they just want to get pissed.

Stonch said...

Yes. What's worse, crap lagers like Fosters and Carling (or Bud, Miller and Coors if you're in the US), or the alcopops and shooters that kids are drinking instead? I think the latter to be honest.

The beer market interacts with that of other alcoholic beverages and has to be seen in that context I suppose. It isn't much fun to write about though!

Ron Pattinson said...

Lew, sadly I have to agree about most drinkers being in search of intoxication rather than flavour. We can hope that some great new beer will come to dominate, but I think history points the other way.

Looking at a beer like Pils is revealing. It spent its first 100 years as an expensive, distinctive drink. The more popular it became, the more low-quality and tasteless it became. Whatever replaces it will probably start out higher-quality but descend into crapness pretty fast.

My theory is that large breweries produce beer that is just good enough not to have customers complaining.