THE number of new beer brands reached a record high of more than 1,600 in the past year following a rise in the popularity of artisan products, a study shows.
Big breweries are investing in their own artisan style beers, while supermarkets are expanding their own brands, says London law firm RPC.
Large breweries are also gaining greater market share by acquiring brands as well as launching their own, the research found.
It comes after the Campaign for Real Ale’s new Good Beer Guide warned global brewing giants are seeking to use their ‘marketing muscle’ to take over the UK’s booming real ale sector.
The 2017 edition of the Guide – sponsored by beer quality assessor Cask Marque – records ‘the vibrancy’ of the British real ale market, with more than 200 new breweries opening in the past year, and 1,540 now in operation.
In an interview for the Guide, Professor John Colley of Warwick University’s Business School, who is an expert on global companies, says the likes of AB InBev and SAB Miller can strip costs from production as a result of their ability to bulk buy raw materials such as grain and hops at enormous discounts.
Prof Colley adds that big brewers enjoy 40 per cent lower costs than even medium-size producers.
Jeremy Drew, head of retail at RPC, said: ‘Global drinks giants are also now launching their own artisan brands to capitalise on the growing craft beer market and to compete with the threat of independent breweries.
‘In the past, mega-breweries may have placed greater emphasis on consolidating their current range.’