Around the world, consumer demands for higher quality and greater variety have positively impacted the craft brewing industry. A recent study on the global craft brewing industry, conducted by yeast supplier Alltech, discovered that there are more than 10,000 craft breweries worldwide. Of those, 86 percent are in North America and Europe, with Europe pipping North America to the post by only three craft breweries. Even so, the U.S. has just surpassed 4,000 breweries, which represents a nearly 20 percent growth in the last year and far exceeds any other individual country’s count by thousands. (Don’t miss the infographic at the bottom of this story.)
“The rise of craft beer as a beverage of choice is indicative of consumers’ demand for differentiated, interesting and quality products,” said Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer of Alltech. “It has been 15 years since we acquired the Lexington Brewing Co. and during that time we have witnessed the development of more discerning drinkers as consumers switch from the big beer brands to those with distinctive taste and a story to tell. This change in consumer sentiment and demand has obviously driven the big beer brands, like AB InBev and SABMiller, to join ranks.”
The Global Craft Beer Survey assessed the number of craft breweries through information obtained in partnership with local beverage associations and Alltech’s sales force, which operates in 128 countries. The top 10 locations for craft breweries in the world are: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Brazil and Japan.
According to Connolly, the organizer of the survey, one distinctive point to note with this survey is in relation to each country’s population. “It is fascinating to compare the number of craft breweries in each country to that of its population. When it comes to craft breweries per head, Switzerland is 39th in terms of top craft beer producing nations yet it ranks number one by breweries/population with close to five craft breweries per 100,000 people. In yet another twist, while it has more breweries per head, surprisingly beer is not cheap. Zürich, its most populous city, is ranked number two as the most expensive city to buy beer.”
The Global Craft Beer Survey raises some questions in regard to other regions of the world and their uptake of the craft brewing phenomenon. For example, China and India rank among the top ten countries for population and GDP yet neither country has more than 60 craft breweries. Given that China rivals the U.S. as beer drinkers with close to a doubling in terms of consumption, will there be a brewery boom in the country’s future?
Overall, Connolly estimates the craft beer industry’s net worth at $50 billion.
This is Alltech’s first global survey of the craft brewing industry. It was undertaken at the request of president and founder Dr. Pearse Lyons for the company’s own information because data assessing the international craft brewing market was not readily available.