Drinks market analysts IWSR has revealed its beer predictions for the year ahead, with the on-premise and e-commerce front and centre.

IWSR is predicting that the beer category will remain relatively stable, with small volume growth between one and two per cent forecasted. 

“Despite the uncertainty created by ongoing macroeconomic and geopolitical challenges, there remain many opportunities for beer globally,” the report reads. 

According to IWSR, beer has an in-built resistance to cost-of-living increases, as it is seen by consumers as an ‘affordable luxury’.

On-premise return stutters

On-premise beer sales are still anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2025, but the on-going economic headwinds are likely to impact the rebound of on-premise alcohol sales in general. 

In particular, IWSR suggests these conditions will have a greater impact on craft brewers, which are more reliant upon on-premise sales, and brew pubs. However, the analysts expect the off-premise to pick up some of this lost trade, particularly the alcohol e-commerce industry. 

IWSR does tip one beer sub-category to enjoy better returns in the on-premise: non-alcoholic beer, which it says benefits from having an attractive price point for operators, while avoiding any alcohol excise.

Beer to lead the way for e-commerce

For the 16 most influential e-commerce markets tracked by IWSR, beer is expected to generate the fastest online growth over the next few years. When combined with cider and RTDs, this category is anticipated to account for almost 25 per cent of e-commerce value by 2026. 

Premiumisation is another long-term trend that will benefit beer in the e-commerce space. 

“The expansion of online beer sales should help to facilitate the ongoing premiumisation of the beer category,” IWSR’s report continues. 

IWSR says that brewers in markets around the world are focusing their high-end brands and products online, as consumers continue to spend more time at home than in hospitality venues. 

Brands are also branching into e-commerce to service their trade customers, particularly in emerging markets where the traditional trade remains strong. In particularly, IWSR highlights moves by AB InBev and Heineken to introduce B2B apps, reporting that Heineken has more than doubled its e-commerce sales in the first nine months of 2022. 

Positives outweigh negatives

Although there are some undeniable hurdles to navigate, the overall picture observed by IWSR is a positive one – continuing to predict growth for the beer category. And the analysts believe there could be a radically more positive outlook if inflationary pressures or the Russian war in Ukraine come to an end. 

Read the full report here.

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