2 Sep 2022

Beer drinking rebounds to pre-pandemic levels

12:58 pm on 2 September 2022
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Stats NZ figures show consumption has risen 7.2 percent for the first six months of 2022. Photo: 123rf

Beer drinking patterns are returning to normal but it's not all golden-hued for the industry, Brewers Association executive director Dylan Firth says.

Statistics New Zealand figures show overall beer consumption is back to pre-pandemic levels, after lockdowns inspired some people to drink more and others to cut back on alcohol.

Overall the sector has experienced big falls in demand since the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 but latest Stats NZ figures show consumption has risen 7.2 percent for the first six months of 2022.

Firth said it was a common misconception that people drank more during the pandemic lockdowns.

While there were small spikes as people bought supplies for drinking at home, overall the consumption figures declined during that time.

Now that the hospitality sector has reopened, it has helped beer consumption rise to a normal level again, he said.

"That's going back up but we are seeing some difficulty for some in the industry. The cost of doing business is still significantly higher, with inflation, excise tax has gone up significantly in this time, [costs for] pallets, transportation.

"So while things have gone back to normal I think the industry is still finding things quite hard."

There had also been a shift during the pandemic in how consumers were drinking their beer with many returning to the mainstream 4 percent ales that used to be prevalent years ago.

Craft beers with a few exceptions have not seen big increases in popularity in the last six months.

"But those premium brands - green bottle beers if you like - are really seeing a big boost. So consumers are looking at being out and about, having a green beer after work; those kinds of things are starting to happen."

The New Zealand brewing industry was worth $2.8 billion last year with 6600 people working in the sector.

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