Global beer is going through a transformational period. Key categories are adapting to respond to maturity barriers, macroeconomic headwinds, the craft segment’s irreverent and seismic rise and the loss of share of throat to spirits and wine. As emerging markets are proving to be as profitable as they are volatile and mainstream brands’ dominance is put into question, pockets of value growth are difficult to locate, but are more important than ever.
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Beer sales continue to grow, although the category is losing share of volume to the more dynamic spirits and wine
While lager still dominates, interest in alternative types – especially dark beer – is gathering momentum, and other beers are even beginning to cannibalise lager sales in mature markets.
Largely outdated and out of touch economy ales are fading away at the same time that higher end offerings pioneered by craft brewers are reaching out to a younger, more adventurous demographic.
Macroeconomic headwinds in Ireland, US maturity and consumption shifts alongside security risks in Nigeria both hit global growth hard in 2012, but a reversal of the trend is within reach.
While craft beer is becoming better established, the first whispers of the potential bursting of a bubble can already be heard in the markets that have spearheaded the trend, most notably the US and the UK.
Sobering growth in low-alcohol beer masks the fact that there is nascent interest in the category, driven by radler-inspired launches and a healthier spin.
Non-alcoholic beer retains its focus on religiously restrictive markets, where flavours and aspirational consumption continue driving sales, but is yet to make significant inroads in mature markets.
While the region accounted for 36% of global beer volumes in 2012, this share is expected to rise significantly, to reach 40% by 2017.