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Recession Boosts Sales Of Premium NZ Brewed Beer

Recession Boosts Sales Of Premium Nz Brewed Beer

The recession has brought an unexpected change to the beer drinking habits of mature New Zealanders. And it appears our taste is becoming more discerning than Australians.

Sales of higher priced New Zealand “craft” beer are up 11 percent while mainstream beer sales have declined 5 percent according to research by the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.

The Guild, which represents the country’s 50 brewers, says that while sales value is up, it appears that individually we’re actually drinking less. Total alcohol consumption, for example, fell 3.3 percent.

Guild Chairman David Cryer says that’s because premium traditionally brewed beers are much higher priced than main stream – on average $12.00 a bottle. So purchases tend to be single bottles to drink slowly while out in a bar or restaurant, or four packs for home consumption instead of six or dozen packs.

“That’s a marked change from the traditional two, three or more bottles in a session that has been so much part of the New Zealand culture for so long,” he says.

Mr Cryer cites the “lipstick” analogy – where in tough economic times people will opt for affordable, pleasurable luxuries such as lipstick, shoes and now crafted beer while forgoing other purchases inappropriate for the climate.

He says that basically, it’s becoming fashionable to pay a little more and take more time drinking a better, traditionally brewed New Zealand beer.

He believes the increased popularity of “home grown” beers is due to the variety, more heightened taste and world class quality of our product. And he believes we’ve become more discerning than Australians in what beer we choose to drink.

While premium beer sales in Australia grew 35 percent in the past year, they account for only 1 percent of that country’s beer market.

In New Zealand premium beer now accounts for 8 percent of sales. So collectively we’re drinking more; individually we’re drinking less but opting for better taste.

The Guild’s members including DB and Lion, brew around 6.2 million litres of premium beer a year.

The smaller brewers – avid beer enthusiasts - are spread around the country with clusters mainly in Nelson, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury.

David Cryer says the figures are interesting because there’s only a small if any selection of premium New Zealand brewed beers in most bars.

However, supermarkets, particularly New World and Liquor land are giving greater support to New Zealand premium product, promoting a much wider range.

This suggests New Zealanders are becoming more aware of the uniqueness of our beers and are seeking out premium brews at the expense of imported product.

Mr Cryer says that if the premium beer sales trend continues, it could be at the expense of wine sales….further contributing to a drop in alcohol consumption.


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