Craft beer boom? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet

By BeertownNZ Tue, 25 Aug 2015 National

ANZ’s New Zealand Craft Beer Industry Insights 2015 describes an industry on the brink of something big

The second annual report on the industry was released just before Beervana, when we all had other things to do, but it is worth finding. I’d say it’s compulsory reading for anyone who wants to stay informed on the industry. You can download a copy here.

The report profiles an industry that is growing rapidly and has the potential for continued growth in coming years. It says craft beer now accounts for 13% of the beer sold in New Zealand, and that off-premise craft beer sales increased by a massive 42% over the previous year.

ANZ does not give a figure for total growth in craft beer production or sales, which seems like a big gap in the report. In the absence of a total figure, I suspect know the 42% growth in off-premise sales will be misquoted as representing all craft beer sales. The figure reflects growing interest in craft beer from mainstream liquor retailers and supermarkets.

The number of brewing entities continues to increase – ANZ notes 111 brewers operating when the report was written, and others have opened since.

A large part of the report looks at the opportunities and challenges of exporting. One third of the brewers surveyed are already exporting, and another half of those surveyed want to. Exports are growing, and ANZ identifies Asia as an important prospective market.

Other points raised are the very high level of collaboration in the craft beer industry, as compared with other industries ANZ reports on. There is, though, a need for professional business skills, and this need is anticipated to increase as the industry continues the transition from 'cottage to corporate’.

I take these reports with a bit of healthy scepticism. I’m sure ANZ had a tough job getting the data together in an industry with so many privately-owned businesses. A lot of the qualitative data came from focus group sessions, and when you get a lot of (competing) brewers together in the same room the results aren’t always factual, if you know what I mean.

But the report is a unique and useful summary of the industry, and developing an ongoing series of annual reports will be a real asset in years to come if the methodology is consistent and allows year-to-year comparisons.

Fun fact – the craftiest part of New Zealand is the Upper North Island, where craft accounts for 14% of beer consumed. In the Lower North Island it’s 12.5% and just 12% in the South Island. Discuss.

By BeertownNZ Tue, 25 Aug 2015 National