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NZ low-alcohol beer consumption bubbles up 750 per cent, survey reveals

NZ low-alcohol beer consumption bubbles up 750x, survey reveals
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Despite several years of disruption and supply challenges, low-alcohol beer consumption in New Zealand has surged by 750 per cent since 2019, and the brewing industry remains a key contributor to the country’s economy. 

In a survey commissioned by the Brewers Association of NZ, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has revealed that beer sales generate as much as NZ$900 million in revenue for the government and the market was worth $3.3 billion in the year to last September.

“The brewing sector … is seeing a recovery that has brought it back to levels seen before the pandemic,” said Dylan Firth, executive director of The Brewers Association of New Zealand.

One trend seen over the past few years, explained Firth, was consumers’ transition to low and no-alcohol beers. 

Low-alcohol beer (less than 1.15 ABV) has jumped to 750 per cent since 2019, with 38 per cent growth over the past year, making the segment 13 per cent of the entire beer market.

Furthermore, the other sector that has seen an increase in popularity is the 5 per cent ABV and above beers, which come from premium and craft brands. 

“This, coupled with the overall lower per capita consumption of all beer, reflects that New Zealanders generally have slightly fewer drinking occasions but focus on quality and premium brands,” he added.

Aside from the increase in low-alcohol consumption, the report also revealed a decline in brewery growth. 

Firth said the average brewery number is around 200, with two-thirds from the North Island and one-third from the South, with the number remaining steady since the beginning of 2019 – and the number of breweries closing is similar to those opening.

“Reflecting on the past year, it has been a difficult one for many, with record excise tax increases, limited supply of inputs, and transport logistic issues,” he concluded. “However, brewers are innovative and resilient. So, we can only look forward to 2023 and what it may bring.”

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