Brexit: Craft beer could save pubs

Claire Dodd

Claire Dodd

05 August 2016

Local beers from Britain's craft brewers could help buffer the nation's pubs against the worsening economy, according to the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).

The organisation – which represents the interests of the nation's independent brewers – is predicting a boost for British craft beer based on behaviour during previous economic downturns, which saw consumers trade up on treats.

'In the 2008-09 recession we saw many consumers applying "quality over quantity", choosing premium local ales over mainstream beers,' said Mike Benner, managing director of SIBA. 'We also saw a strong "community-comfort" effect whereby in times of uncertainty people tend to associate themselves more with their own local communities.'

He continued: 'In many ways it was these consumer trends that drove the continuing growth of local craft beer. We expect that trend to continue in the coming months of uncertainty. These effects could be positive for British craft-brewed beer in both the on and off-trade.'

SIBA says it is also predicting that the weaker pound could have positive effects for pubs, as more UK citizens choose to holiday at home, and more overseas tourists are attracted to the UK.

Benner went on to say: 'We know that the great British pub and our unique British beer are an essential part of the tourism mix. We may see some positive effects as staycations rise and tourism authorities work to boost the number of overseas visitors. It is essential that pubs get their range right in light of this, ensuring that quality local beers from craft breweries feature heavily in their offer.'

Around 17% of SIBA members exported their beers in 2015, a number expected to rise amid the weakening of the pound.

Benner added that 'many SIBA members are understandably anxious over the uncertainty of trade deals following Brexit, but will also look to maximise the opportunity which arises from the growing interest in craft beer around the world. British beer is unique in this booming global marketplace and craft brewers will see opportunities arising from this.'

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