Bottled Beers – ready for a return

Draught brands of popular beers can't be everywhere in the on-trade and anyway consumers are now taking to bottled craft beers too as a means of widening their post-recession repertoire. In a world of product that’s become affordable again, we review the bottled beer market in pubs and off-licences.

Bottled beers hold just over 6% of the total on-trade beer market by volume according to Nielsen on-trade data MAT ending December 2015.

Nielsen puts the overall beer market at €2.6 billion last year having grown by 0.2% on 2014. Nielsen also points out that 58% of beer’s volume and almost 79% of its value is sold through the on-trade. However it points out too that the on-trade is seeing some slight volume decline, while the off-trade is growing at 3.7% in volume.

And according to Nielsen, “Bottled beer volumes are not as strong as total beer in the off-trade and are showing signs of decline in the on-trade. Draught remains the key format in the on-trade, with bottled holding just over 6% of total volumes”.

Oh well, on the up side, this seems to be a cyclical pattern with the bottled beer market. In a recession, traditionally, consumers tend to move towards purchasing draught beer as it’s perceived to be better value. For the publican, emptier pockets mean that margins remain tighter on draught than on bottled beer.

The last recession typically impacted bottled beer sales but budgetary prudence is easing considerably on the part of the recovering consumer and confidence seems to be returning in spades judging by Visa Europe’s Irish Consumer Spending Index for January 2016 which shows a 12.2% jump in spend on hotels, restaurants and bars when compared with a very favourable spend in December 2015. With the additional and ongoing development of the craft beer market, bottled beers can be expected to pick up in sales in 2016.

For one thing, craft beer suppliers want to supply the on-trade and are easier able to bottle their product than keg it with all the logistics that this implies.

In the off-trade, however, bottles represent almost one-third of the volume.

But distributing bottled beers takes time and effort and the market has become very competitive which has resulted in just three major wholesalers – C&C Gleeson and Counterpoint – now sharing most of the bottled beer market between them.


Bottled Beer in 2015

On-trade sales of bottled beer fell in value by 2.6%, from €201.5 million to €196.3 million, according to Nielsen On-Trade Data to MAT ending December 2015 while volumes shrunk 2.5% to 16.1 million litres from 16.5 million litres.

Off-trade sales of bottled beer fared somewhat better, however, rising 1.5% to €207 million from €204 million according to Nielsen Off-Trade Data (including Dunnes & discounters) to MAT ending December 2015.


Bottled beer – the advantages

There’s no line-cleaning with bottled beers and with the increasing selection of types of bottled beer available to today’s consumer, bottled beers themselves can exhibit considerable margin flexibility – especially amongst a more knowledgeable beer-appreciating public.

Here in Ireland 60% of Irish consumers agree that they can be open to paying higher for top quality beer if the taste is noticeably different from a cheaper beer.

In NI this figure rises to 64% according to Innovations in Beer, a study published by Mintel last year. This suggests that Irish consumers seek more from premium labels to justify shelling out the extra dosh for a more expensive beer – a reasonable enough assumption.

And some 57% of consumers questioned would be interested in beers with lower calories according to the same research from Toluna/Mintel.

Bottling a beer also makes it easier to trial. Consumers – especially Millennials – expect a wider range of brands now and the publican should cater to this demand in order to maximise the sales opportunities.

“If you take total beer in a pub you’re looking at 10% to 15% of it for bottled beer” says LVA Chief Executive Dónall O’Keeffe, “which does give a decent margin for a category that accounts for around 65% of total turnover by value.”

In the last couple of years the trade has witnessed a marked increase in sales of bottled craft beers with consumers more willing to experiment and try new beers. This trend has been of benefit to packaged beer sales, clearing the way to pre-recession demand.


Corona Light – Only 99 calories!

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Let your customers experience the light side with Corona Light. At only 99 calories a bottle Corona light has 30% less calories than regular bottled beer, zero grams of fat and only five grams of carbohydrate – while still managing to retain the unique refreshing taste of the original Corona Extra.

Corona Light avoids the ‘watered down’ taste synonymous with other light beers and will appeal to those wishing to have a social beer without the calories.

Log off, Lime in….





Bulmers Light – Only 92 calories!


Created in the same authentic time-honored tradition as Bulmers Original Irish Cider, Bulmers Light provides the crisp, refreshing flavor and natural character you’d expect from Bulmers – but with fewer calories.

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