Brewers and distributors contacted by SLTN last week said the world beer sector is continuing to go from strength to strength north of the border.
Quoting figures from CGA, Darryl Hinksman, head of on-trade customer marketing at Heineken, whose portfolio includes Amstel, Tiger, Desperados, Sol and Birra Moretti, said sales of world beers in the Scottish on-trade are up 20% year-on-year – a figure which he said outperforms premium lager as a whole.
“Given the volume and value growth trends, world beers offer licensees an excellent opportunity to drive profits,” said Hinksman.
“Whilst people may have reduced the frequency of pub visits, they are often willing to pay slightly more for premium products when they do venture out.”
His sentiments were shared by Audrey Schillings, senior brand manager at Heineken Western Europe Export, which takes in the Krusovice brand.
“Consumers may be drinking less alcohol in volume terms – as part of healthier lifestyles and because they have less disposable income – but they are looking to treat themselves and try something a bit special when they do have a beer,” she said.
Both Graham Archibald, national account director at Morgenrot, which distributes world beer brands like Alhambra, Krombacher and Quilmes, and Jill Sutherland, Budvar UK’s account manager for Scotland, agreed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for world beer brands – despite the ongoing economic gloom.
“The present economic problems seem to have done little to take the wind out of world beer growth,” said Sutherland at Budvar UK.
“There is no sign that people are switching to commodity beers to save money.”
That consumers are demanding more information about the provenance and traceability of food and drink generally is reckoned to have bolstered the performance of the world beer sector.
Schillings at Heineken Western Europe Export said recent high profile scandals in the food industry have only served to fuel consumers’ thirst for knowledge about the products they consume – and that includes beer.
Crawford Sinclair, UK director of sales at Innis & Gunn, agreed.
“The recent horse meat scandal has really brought to light that we have been way too complacent in accepting the origins of our food and I hope it will encourage more and more people to demand better,” he said.
This growing demand for details means having bar staff who are knowledgeable about the category and the brands within it is key.
“Consumers are more interested than ever in the provenance of their drinks,” said Gareth Whittle, MD of Chilli Marketing, which distributes Cusquena from Peru.
“They are able to make educated decisions about the products they choose at the bar, and seek out brands with quality ingredients and an interesting history.
“Bar staff knowledge can have a great impact on sales as they are perfectly placed to draw the consumer’s attention to world beers and encourage them to try something new.”
Alisdair Hamilton, on-trade sales director for Molson Coors, whose world beer portfolio includes Cobra and Staropramen, underlined the importance of staff training.
“The first thing any of our team does is give bar staff the knowledge they need so that they can advise customers on provenance, taste and which foods to match a beer with,” he said. “With consumers ever more aware of and interested in where a product comes from, giving bar staff this knowledge provides the confidence to up-sell.”
As well as knowledge about the product and category, Archibald at Morgenrot stressed the importance of achieving the ‘perfect serve’.
“It is vital that staff can educate on the beer style, provenance and food matching suggestions, but it is just as vital that the world beers are served as they should be – at the right temperature, in the correct glassware, with care and consideration, and, if possible, with a touch of theatre,” he said.
Sam Rhodes, director of customer marketing at Miller Brands, whose world beers include Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and Kozel, underlined the importance of glassware. “Miller Brands has launched a premium font and new branded tankard glassware for Pilsner Urquell to emphasise its heritage,” added Rhodes.
Image – Growing consumer demand for the provenance of food and drink is reckoned to have contributed to the buoyancy of the world beer category.