‘It’s been a great year for beer exports, but we can certainly do more’: BBPA

British beer exports to China up 500%

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Both the BBPA & the UK government are focusing on export potential for British Beer. pic:iStock/maury75
Both the BBPA & the UK government are focusing on export potential for British Beer. pic:iStock/maury75

Related tags International trade

British beer exports to China have increased by 500%, according to figures published by HMRC, while beer exports overall rose by 6% in 2016.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) credits the growth to increased interest in British beer, also boosted by pictures of Chinese president Xi Jinping enjoying a beer with former prime minister David Cameron in 2015.

Meanwhile, exports to India grew by 417%, and exports to the EU grew 5%.

British beer is the UK’s third most valuable food and drink export, coming in behind whisky and chocolate.

Beer exports are now valued at £584m ($712m), up £84m ($102m) since 2015, with a total of 1.05 billion pints of beer sent abroad.

Post-Brexit strategy

Around 63% of Britain’s beer exports are destined for the EU, while the remaining 37% go to destinations further afield.

The BBPA is developing an export strategy to help support the government’s Food and Drink Action Plan, which charts the way for exports to succeed between 2016 and 2020 as Britain prepares to leave the EU.  

The Food and Drink Action Plan identifies countries that already have, or can have, potential for British beer: among them France, Germany, India, US, Canada and China.

“The BBPA’s new strategy will stress the need for trade deals post-Brexit, and the importance of a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, Britain’s largest export market, that does not generate additional red tape or barriers to trade for beer exporters,”​ says the BBPA.

“Building on existing IT systems to continue to allow the efficient movement of beer in and out of the UK will also be critical in this regard.”

The British Beer and Pub Association says it would ‘warmly welcome’ financial support from the government for overseas activities.  

Meanwhile, it emphasizes calls for the UK government to reduce beer duty and cancel the planned inflationary increase in duty in the March 8 Budget. Although UK beer duty is not payable on exports, the BBPA says high beer duty acts as a barrier to investment in the sector, which is needed to help foster export growth. 

China: export case study

Bob Hogg, International Business Development Manager for Scottish craft brewer Innis & Gunn said: “China is one of the fastest growing beer markets in the world, and we're incredibly excited to introduce our range of craft beers at a time when there is significantly increasing demand in the category.

“Through in-market knowledge and learning - and developing our understanding of the emerging dynamics such as distribution channels, consumer tastes and the competitor landscape - our approach… will fully realize the potential to grow our business in the market, ensuring the Innis & Gunn portfolio meets the needs of both trade and consumer.”

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