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Craft breweries take significant lockdown hit

Published:  17 April, 2020

An average 82% drop in beers sales has been recorded by small independent breweries across the UK since the outbreak of Covid-19, according to new Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) research released today  

The survey also revealed that eight out of 10 brewers do not believe the government is doing enough to support them with more than half (54%) of the UK’s independent breweries being unable to access any government support. 

Nearly a third (29%) are now considering redundancies, with 65% having stopped production altogether following the on-trade closure.  

“Unlike the global beer brands who can supply supermarkets in great volume, small independent breweries sell the majority of their beer through pubs, bars and restaurants, meaning the lockdown measures have hit them much harder,” said James Calder, SIBA’s chief executive.

While many have launched local delivery services or online shops to try to stay afloat, the increase in online sales was “a drop in the ocean compared to the overall decrease their beer sales have seen”, he added. 

“Pubs, bars and restaurants have been receiving help from the government, but none of the same schemes apply to our small breweries who saw their sales fall off a cliff almost overnight. They urgently need a package of measures to keep them going otherwise many won’t be able to reopen.”

The survey shows that 70% of breweries are offering new delivery or takeaway services, with around 61% of those breweries now offering free delivery to local beer lovers. 

SIBA said it was calling on government to relax licensing laws to allow the one in four breweries which don’t have the relevant licenses in place to deliver beer direct to consumers in a variety of ways, with the trade association saying this should come as part of a targeted package of support for breweries and the brewery supply chain to match the level received by pubs. 

In addition beer duty payments, which are often a brewers single biggest cost which account for 35% of turnover should be deferred by government to help weather this storm, it added.  

SIBA said it is also working with beer consumer group CAMRA on the ‘Pulling Together’ initiative, which links independent breweries and pubs offering beer delivery and takeaway services with beer lovers across the UK.

A total of 282 of small independent brewers took part in the UK survey which was conducted from 9-14 April 2020.