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Europe dominates craft beer innovation

Europe is taking a global leadership role in craft beer innovation, according to new research from Mintel.

The research reports that only five years ago (2013) North America (and the US especially) dominated the global craft beer industry, accounting for 52% of all craft beer retail launches compared to just 29% for Europe. But in 2017, 54% of launches originated in Europe, and just 19% in North America. Since 2013, Europe’s craft beer scene has experienced huge growth with new craft beer product launches more than doubling, experiencing growth of 178%. While the US is still the single most innovative market globally, with 17% of all global craft beer launches originating there in 2017, six of the top ten most innovative markets are in Europe.

Jonny Forsyth, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink, said, “Over the last few years, interest in craft beer has migrated from the US into the UK and now into continental Europe. Our research suggests that Europeans are embracing craft beer because they are looking for new, more exciting offerings compared to their usual beer options, especially in markets such as Germany, where brewers and beer styles have remained unchanged for centuries. While markets like Germany, Belgium and Czech Republic are still dominated by their own beer styles when it comes to innovation, consumer interest in craft beers is already there and offers ample opportunities for manufacturers.”

However, Mintel research reveals that European consumers do not care too much about the difference between a ‘true craft’ beer (i.e. small, independent) or a ‘craft-like’ brand owned by big global brewers and, says the research, over two in five (44%) beer drinkers in the UK would like to see a system of certification of craft beer.

Said Jonny, “The term ‘craft’ lacks a formal definition which has enabled larger beer companies to capitalise on the craft boom, either by launching their own craft-style products or acquiring craft breweries, challenging what ‘craft’ really means for this industry. This practice of big brewers swallowing up profitable, smaller craft operators shows no signs of slowing down. An industry-wide definition could be both helpful to smaller manufacturers and welcomed by European consumers, as many beer drinkers want greater clarity and assistance in navigating the category.”

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