The Brewers Association of New Zealand says the beer industry is likely to be hit hard by the latest COVID-19 lockdown.

“Statistics New Zealand figures released this week showed some hope for brewers on the back of an increase in beer available for consumption in the six months to June 2021, however it is very likely that this growth will not be sustained across the full year with the latest outbreak of COVID-19 and accompanying Level 4,” says Brewers Association Executive Director, Dylan Firth.

“What we see comparing 2021 with 2020 is that beer has recovered slightly on the first six-month period with a 4.2% increase compared to the same time last year.

“The major driver behind this was that in 2020 during that 6-month period we had quite a long lockdown and people were drinking much less overall.”

Firth says it is frustrating to see the rhetoric that there is a large increase in alcohol sales.

“This is just a snapshot in time and in fact, on a 12-month rolling basis, the beer category is actually in decline,” he says.

“We know from experience and Statistics NZ data, that there is a short sharp burst at the beginning of lockdown but then sales drop off because people have stocked up.

“It’s unfortunate that we have the same alarmist view being repeated by some corners saying how much more people are drinking because sales went up just before lockdown, when we know that simply isn’t true.

“It’s like saying that because more people brought bread there are huge numbers of sandwiches being consumed. It just doesn’t add up,” says Firth.

Firth says the hospitality industry will struggle again and breweries large and small across New Zealand as a result, with less channels open through which to market their products, less sales through their own tap rooms and challenges with logistics for delivery.

“Lockdowns particularly hurt the hospitality industry which can only fully open at Level 1 for larger venues,” he says.

“One of the things brewers are grateful for is the ability to sell direct to consumers online with contactless delivery.

“While this is one of the few options for them, it certainly won’t make up for a decline in sales and revenue over lockdown.”

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