Dispatches from Canadean International Beer Strategies Conference, Amsterdam

What's brewing in beer? Premiumisation, Africa, non-alcoholic and craft

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

What's the next big thing in beer? Pic: Flickr / Quinn Dombrowski
What's the next big thing in beer? Pic: Flickr / Quinn Dombrowski

Related tags Developed country

Look beyond the headline figures and there are promising prospects for beer, according to Canadean. Opportunities include the African market, premiumisation, non-alcoholic beers, and the continued popularity of craft. 

Global beer growth has more than halved since 2007, while growth rates are not expected to exceed 3% over the next few years.

But Kevin Baker, account director, Canadean, says that the picture is much more optimistic when delving into key markets and categories.

Is your beer glass half full or half empty?

“We were seeing [global] growth rates of 4%, 5%, 6% in the early part of the decade,”​ he told delegates at Canadean International Beer Strategies Conference in Amsterdam last week. “What we see now is around 2%.”

“Going forward, we don’t expect to see beer growth exceed 3%.”

“But the top line global figure is one thing: when you start to look at individual regions, individual countries, you see a completely different picture.”

Africa, for example, shows a 6.6% CAGR between 2008-2014; Asia’s is 5.9%, and Latin America 3.8%.

Emerging markets show a low per capita consumption of beer, but strong growth, said Baker. Compare that to developing markets, which have strong growth and mid-range per capita growth, and developed markets which have high per capita consumption but a plateau or decline in growth.

In terms of product categories, again, it’s important to look beyond global headline figures and look at promising sectors, said Baker.

The prize from premiumisation

Between 2009 and 2014, the super-premium category saw the most impressive growth across the global beer market, at 5%, while premium beers grew by 2.2%. Discount products, in comparison, declined by 0.4%.

“It’s not just developed markets. Premiumisation is very much a factor in developing and emerging markets as well,” ​said Baker. YoY volume growth rates for 2013-2014 show 6.6% super-premium growth in Asia, 6% in Latin America, and 9.4% in North America.

Craft continues to conquer

There’s difficulty and confusion in defining craft, noted Baker - but however you define it, people want it. Interest in craft beers continues to rise.

“Consumers increasingly want to know where products come from, they want to support smaller producers and they’re seeking authenticity.”

This also contributes to the trend of premiumisation, he added.

“One of the things that craft beer has done is provide impetus in terms of innovation and engaging consumers,” ​continued Baker. “What you’re really seeing is growth in new concepts, new brands… very engaging to the younger consumer.”

The use of bold, edgy flavours also appeal to younger consumers, he added.

Cider is cool

stella cidre
Stella Artois Cidre: peach and elderflower

Cider offers an opportunity for beer brands to diversify their portfolios. Take, for example, Stella Artois’ move into the market with Stella Artois Cidre (UK launch 2011).

“Long gone is the perception that cider is a low cost, high ABV beverage. Now it’s extremely trendy,” ​said Baker.

“One of the big drivers of cider recently has been the fact that all the large brewing groups now have an interest in one way or another in the cider market. They’ve been very strong in adopting innovative marketing campaigns, pushing the way cider is perceived.”

A lot of elements in cider match how beer is positioned: a focus on heritage, association with the music scene, attention to origin of apples or hops, novel flavours, humorous marketing, and retro packaging, Baker added.

Zero is zooming

The rise of Islam, and states where alcohol is prohibited, is helping drive a market for non-alcoholic beers, said Baker.  Like cider, it’s undergone a renaissance in perception: now becoming a positive purchase, not a purchase driven by abstinence, Baker said.

As a result, Baker suggests soft drink players can be expected to show an increasing interest in the category​. 

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