15 December 2023

UK beer report 2022: the numbers

United Kingdom | We have reached the time of year again when numbers appear that explain how UK beer and brewing have been doing in the past year. The UK beer writer, Tim Webb, crunched the numbers for us and here is his report.

UK beer production dropped 2.3 percent in 2022, to 37.5 million hl, compared to 38.4 million hl in 2021. This is in contrast to the rest of Europe, where, if Russia and Ukraine are excluded, production rose 4.3 percent. If we exclude Russia, the UK ranked fourth, behind Germany, Spain, and Poland.

Beer consumption in 2022 was significantly higher than production, due to imports. It stood at 45.8 million hl, or 68 litres per capita, which is a decline of 0.4 percent over 2021. In fact, average beer consumption has continued its downward trend since 2018 and the most recent figure represents a 75-year low for the UK, Mr Webb writes.

When converted into euros, UK punters paid EUR 4.2 billion in excise to the taxman in 2022, more than four times as much excise duty on beer than any other country in Europe. However, the total tax take from beer production is far higher, as VAT is raised on both the beer and its Excise Duty. This totalled GBP 6.8 billion (USD 8.5 billion) in the tax year 2022-23, marginally higher than in 2021-22.

Mr Webb says that for the first time in a decade, the total amount of alcohol drunk in the UK rose significantly, to 7.5 litres per capita. After peaking at 7.7 litres around 2000, total alcohol consumption had been gradually declining, to reach 7.2 litres in 2019 and 2020. He can only but conclude that over the past forty years, Britain has forsaken beer to become a nation of wine drinkers and cocktail lovers. 

On-premise vs off-premise

Since the 1980s, beer consumption in the UK has been shifting steadily away from the on-premise (mostly pubs) to the off-premise (take-home beer from supermarkets and shops). This trend has averaged 1 percent per year since 1985, when the split was roughly 80:20, to become 45:55 by 2019.

In covid-stricken 2020, when pubs were closed, the split lurched down to 24:76. There was only a small revival in 2021. The good news is, says Mr Webb, that in 2022 the ratio increased back to 41:59. The bad news is that this is still short of the 2019 ratio.

To be fair, he added, no European country, except Ireland and Italy, has seen on-premise sales of beer return to its pre-pandemic level.

Brauwelt International Newsletter

Newsletter archive and information

Mandatory field