Cover both bases with summer beer

Mainstream and more premium options essential to a season of pint perfection

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A CORE range encompassing a mix of premium and mainstream options should help licensees to make the most of the beer category this summer, according to two international brewers.

A cold pint is a popular choice for many pub and bar customers in warmer weather, but KBE Drinks – the company behind Kingfisher and Sagres – and Molson Coors – which counts Staropramen, Pravha and Carling among its portfolio – said it will be important to cater to both the mainstream and more premium market in order to maximise beer sales.

“The trend towards premiumisation in the lager category shows no sign of stopping, with consumers increasingly looking to expand their horizons beyond some of the more traditional beer options on the market – especially premium world lager,” said Mark Bentley, on-trade category controller at Molson Coors Beverage Company.

He added that, since 2019, world lagers have increased their volume share of draught lager sales from 20% to 31%, with the value of the category having grown over 26% in Scotland during that time.

John Price, head of marketing at KBE, said the growing popularity of world beers in the on-trade “shows that tastes and habits change”.

“Having said that, we would of course recommend that publicans stock a combination of both mainstream and premium world lager brands to ensure they are catering for all their customers,” said Price.

“In fact, premium lager with sessionable ABVs (between 4% and 4.5%) is one of the biggest growth segments in the on-trade (up 14% year-on-year) while standard lager is down 7%.”
That was reinforced by CGA figures supplied by Molson Coors, which reported considerable growth in “premium 4%” lager, which Bentley said “presents a huge amount of opportunity” to licensees.

Although these products currently account for far fewer sales than mainstream brands, they have grown 13% in value over the past three years, accounting for around £40 million in sales across the UK.

“While premium options are increasingly popular, don’t underestimate the importance of your core offering either,” said Bentley.

“Core lager still accounts for 53.8% of all draught lager sales value in Scotland, representing six in every ten pints of lager sold.”

And Price, at KBE, reckoned that even the worsening cost of living crisis shouldn’t deter beer fans from enjoying a pint over the summer months, even if they are cutting back in other areas.

“It’s certainly possible that as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, this may impact on customers’ budgets and beer choices in outlet,” said Price.

“But, having said that, it’s probably more likely to affect off-trade sales as usually when people are out in a pub or bar, they are more willing to ‘treat’ themselves to a premium brand they enjoy.”