Craft beer sales soar, as do exports: ANZ report

 “We've seen a material shift in thinking over the past year” says ANZ regional manager Rob Simcic.

Sales of craft beer outside pubs, clubs and restaurants have soared 42% in a year and now account for 13% of beer sales outside these premises by value, according to an ANZ Bank report.

It found the number of craft brewers has more than doubled to 111 from 52 in 2010 and about 25 of them are exporting to more than 40 offshore markets.

Another 20 brewers could start exporting within the next two years, says the report, which has been released the day before Wellington’s Beervana expo.

New Zealand brewers attract investment at twice their annual revenue, higher than other industries, reflecting strong growth expectations.

 “We’ve seen a material shift in thinking over the past year, with production soaring and brewers focusing more and more on overseas markets,” says ANZ regional manager Rob Simcic, who oversees the bank’s food and beverage strategy.

Asia, including China, will be a key market because of its fast-growing middle classes developing a taste for craft beer.

New Zealand craft beer sales to Asia doubled in the last two years, with half the volume going to China, but still only total $2.7 million.

He says brewers tell the bank their exports are just getting started.

“Investors too are putting their money where their palate is, funding New Zealand craft brewers at rates significantly higher than overseas brewers and other industries, reflecting the high returns they see flowing from craft beer’s exceptional growth potential,” Mr Simcic says.

Still 'small beer' but with great expectations
Individual brewers may be “small beer” internationally but their ambition is great, he says.

The formation of the export-focused NZ Craft Beer Collective promises joint marketing with an initial focus on the UK, he says.

The collective was formed earlier this year by Tuatara, a craft beer maker backed by the Wellington investment firm, Rangatira, and four fellow brewers, Yeastie Boys, Renaissance Brewing, Three Boys Brewery and 8 Wired Brewing Co.

About 80% of brewers cite “following my passion” as their top reason for being in the business.

“Brewers’ passion for their craft is a key ingredient for success,” Mr Simcic says.

“As the sector transforms from cottage industry to corporate, this passion must be matched with business skills, he says.

“Developing brewers’ management skills and investing in sound planning will be key to uncapping craft beer’s full export potential.”

Industry bodies, professional service providers and government agencies all have a valuable part to play in tackling skill gaps, Mr Simcic says.

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