The United States leads much of the innovation in craft beer, with 17% of all global craft beer launches in 2017, Interestingly, Brazil is number two with 9%.
“One of the reasons that Brazil is so innovative in craft beer is that for years its beer industry has been so homogeneous and dominated by big brewers. This meant that the consumer lacked for choice, interesting beer innovation and premium beer options,” explained Jonny Forsyth, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink.
“These are precisely the market conditions which led to the craft counter-revolution in the US during the 1980s/90s and Brazil is undergoing a similar process.
“In these market conditions, consumers essentially become frustrated and bored at the lack of choice so are more likely to embrace a segment like craft which celebrates innovation, quality cues and variety,” added Forsythe.
Europe fights back
Data from Mintel revealed that Europe is beginning to take a global leadership role in craft beer innovation, with six of the top ten most innovative markets being in Europe. Indeed, after the US and Brazil, the next six most innovative countries are the UK, Norway, Spain, Italy, France, and Sweden. Number nine on the list is Mexico.
The craft beer market has been dominated by the US for many years: According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), North America – and the US in particular – accounted for 52% of all craft beer retail launches* in 2013, compared to just 29% for Europe. However, in 2017, 54% of launches originated in Europe, and just 19% in North America.
“Over the last few years, interest in craft beer has migrated from the US into the UK and now into continental Europe,” said Forsythe. “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.”
Indeed, beer drinkers in Poland (64%), France (63%), Italy (61%) and Germany (50%) are all interested in trying different types of craft beer, such as Indian Pale Ales or other pale ales, which are already commonplace in the more mature UK craft beer market.
Europeans are also willing to spend more on craft beer, with 52% of beer consumers in Italy, 51% in France, 46% in Germany, and 45% in the UK agreeing that craft beer ‘is worth the extra money’.
“Craft is the ‘new premium’ in beer, and consumers are happy to pay more for smaller-batch, more hand-crafted options, rather than those that are mass-produced. For these consumers, craft beer taps into their desire for new experiences with a nod to the past for inspiration, offering new beer styles that they have never drunk before,” said Forsythe.
*Products marketed as batch, artisan, craft, small, pale ale, IPA, India pale ale, saison, sour, porter, hops, IBU, independent, hand.