A majority of beer drinkers want greater clarity about who is brewing the beer they drink, according to the UK’s Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).
SIBA commissioned a survey of 1,000 beer drinkers in the UK, with 60% saying they cared about which company brewed their beer and almost 70% agreeing that it would be useful to see the brewer’s logo on every beer pump, clip, bottle or can.
Consumers have found it increasingly difficult in the last couple of years to distinguish an independent beer from a mass-produced craft brand, with some of the world’s largest alcohol companies buying into the craft segment. Anheuser-Busch acquired Camden Town Brewery in December 2015, Asahi bought out Meantime Brewing as part of its deal for Miller Brands last year, and Carlsberg has made a rare foray into craft with the acquisition of London Fields.
The growing presence of big business in craft beer is one of the main reasons behind SIBA’s Assured Independent Craft Brewer initiative – a new seal for small-scale brewers that will aim to set them apart from their powerful rivals.
The US Brewers Association had been developing a similar mark at the same time, as discontent on both sides of the Atlantic continues to grow.
SIBA chief executive Mike Benner said: “Quality, flavoursome beer from independent British craft breweries has never been in greater demand, with more people than ever drinking more discerningly and choosing full-flavoured beer. This has of course attracted the attention of the global brewers, who have been buying out previously independent breweries and trying to get their own slice of this growing sector.
“But what this survey clearly shows is consumers care whether the beer they are drinking was brewed by a truly independent British craft brewer or not – it’s all about provenance, transparency and not misleading consumers.”
The research also found that half of beer drinkers were opting for ‘local craft beer’, rising to 61% for consumers aged 25 to 34. SIBA said this ‘suggests a healthy future for this important British manufacturing industry’.
Tim Page, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “Consumers should be given access to information to enable them to make informed choices about which beers to drink. There is currently no agreed definition of craft beer, either in the UK or abroad. That allows large global brewers, who produce beer in huge quantities, to market their products as ‘crafted’ to boost sales – riding the wave of the popularity of craft beer for many drinkers. The discerning customer should have confidence that the beer they’ve chosen is indeed local and artisan, rather than just the product of clever but deceptive marketing.”
Benner added: “It can be no coincidence that since SIBA launched its ‘assured’ scheme, our membership has impressively continued to grow by nearly 50 more brewers. British professional brewing businesses recognise the threat of global craft to their business and the assured scheme is helping to create a future for independent British craft brewers to differentiate themselves in a crowded market place and helping brewers run sustainable businesses.”
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