The latest lockdown has seen beer consumption reduced but consumers are changing to higher value options, says the Brewers Association.

“Statistics New Zealand figures for the period July to September 2021 shows overall beer available for consumption in New Zealand was reduced by 8.7%,” says Brewers Association Executive Director, Dylan Firth.

“However, a noticeable shift to beer of 5% ABV and over – which traditionally would signal craft and premium brands – has grown by 42%.”

Firth says this signals that consumers are looking to have slightly fewer drinking occasions and focus on quality and premium brands when they chose to enjoy a beer.

“The data comes on the back of some slight volume increases at the beginning of 2021 after the initial March 2020 lockdowns had also seen some reduction in consumption.

“The major driver behind these shifts was that in 2020 during that 6-month period we had quite a long lockdown and again for Auckland in the second half of 2021 people were drinking less overall,” he says.

Firth says it had been frustrating to see the rhetoric when we first went into the latest lockdowns about how there was a massive increase in alcohol sales because this is just a snapshot in time.

“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 had stocked up.

“What we do know is that breweries large and small across New Zealand have had another challenging year with less channels to market open through hospitality shutdowns, less sales through their own tap rooms and issues with logistics for delivery.”

He says brewing is a valuable contributor to New Zealand within this value chain adding $634 million to GDP.

“The brewing industry also supports over 7000 jobs through brewing and the purchase of intermediate inputs to the brewing process, paying over $470m in wages.

“It’s really important to acknowledge the significant contribution to the New Zealand economy the brewing sector provides.”

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