Thursday, 3 September 2015

Seeing the Future of Beer

Did anybody see the craft brew revolution coming 20 years ago? Possibly. At least a few in the industry must have because they stayed, did what no one thought possible at the time, and ended up changing the industry. Now, here we are with an endless selection of microbrews within arm's reach no matter where you live. But will it last? In many ways we've seen this before; an explosion in the number of breweries followed by an inevitable period of consolidation. Many people have organised and displayed this on graphs and charts widely available so I won't bother repeating them here. Instead I'm looking at the bigger picture trying to see a pattern or trend. Admittedly it's a bit like reading a stock chart. A lot of information is contained in it and there are many variables to consider. In general one should never bet against the trend, but at what level are we looking at? How long is a piece of string? Supposing we zoom out and assume the macro, i.e. decades long snapshot, will hold true, that means consolidation is on the horizon. However while every chart follows a general trend, the specifics of each new period are never quite the same. The past century has been one of extremes. A large factor like prohibition is not likely to be repeated and there are those who point out that while the absolute number of breweries is currently high, on a per capita basis we've not yet reached the historical ceiling. Given that total beer consumption per capita has been trending down for decades, and the issue of severe lack of variety in the market of 25 years ago being thoroughly resolved, it is more likely that we are at the peak of the craft brew movement. From here we will see consolidation, though not as extreme as in the past. Small local brewers could be in for a tough time. Larger regional brewers should fair all right.  

No comments:

Post a Comment