Can Scottish brewing to be a £1billion industry?

Scotland’s national agency for the food and drink industry has made a rallying call for consumers to buy Scottish beer this Christmas as an ambitious new strategy to grow the Scottish brewing sector is unveiled today.   

Scotland Food & Drink hopes to grow Scottish brewing into a £1bn industry by 2030 and make Scottish brewed beer the most desirable in the world, while being a meaningful part of a healthy lifestyle.

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The plan has been detailed following the findings of a year-long study carried out by the ‘Brewing Industry Leadership Group’ a new body which was commissioned by Scotland Food & Drink to identify the challenges of growing the Scottish brewing sector and supply chain.

Hilary Jones, chair of the Group, has revealed the outcome of the study in a new report titled ‘Brewing Up A Storm’ in which its ambitions over the next decade aim to confront several challenges which are stifling the industry.  She commented;

“Scotland now has over 130 operating breweries supporting over 8,000 jobs. Even though we have an unrivalled track record producing great beer and centuries of history behind us, the rising popularity of global craft beer means that Scotland needs to sharpen its game if it is to remain an international leader.

“If you look back to less than two centuries ago, Scotland was one of the few great brewing nations.  We were inventive, bringing technologists and chemists into our breweries. We created new beer types and brewed Porters, Stouts, IPAs and small batch beers, added botanicals and flavourings.  We exported to the USA, Asia, Australia and Africa.

“Scotland has a precious reputation for brewing quality and there are many opportunities for future growth, but we need a new national and unified approach which maximises potential and drives quality.  The strategy launched today brings a collaborative approach between over a dozen agencies to tackle several challenges including infrastructure, tax, marketing, exporting and the availability of a ready-skilled group of people who see brewing as a desirable career of choice.

“We want Scottish brewing to grow into a £1bn industry by 2030, creating new jobs in urban and rural areas.  We want to increase the perceived value of our beer by focussing on craftmanship and quality. We want consumers to buy Scottish beer, rather than imported beer and to drink beer responsibly. We also want to plug into the new food and drink tourism strategy and improve our brewing destination experiences, educating our visitors and sending an international message that we are a high-quality brewing nation.”

The report reveals 16 recommendations which will be implemented to help achieve the target.  They include:

  • Promote brewing as a career of choice with multiple entry points
  • Fill current and future skills gaps and upskill the industry
  • Strengthen management and financial skills in the industry
  • Improve keg management to reduce costs and increase resource efficiency
  • Use research to help Scottish brewers differentiate their beer and compete globally
  • Build the reputation and hone the USPs of Scottish beer
  • Help Scottish brewers reach new markets, customers and consumers
  • Develop policy and regulation that make Scotland a great place to brew and buy beer

Scotland’s brewers and its supply chain were consulted through the membership body The Brewers Association of Scotland (TBAS); The Society of Independent Brewers Association (SIBA); The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

James Withers, CEO of Scotland Food & Drink commented,

“This strategy is important because it is the first time that our fantastic brewing industry has united to deliver a growth plan for the future.  Working with many partner agencies with a common purpose means that we have a strong chance of success and this, in turn, will feed into our ambition for the Scottish food and drink sector to be worth over £30bn a year by 2030.”

A recent study released by the Scottish Parliament into Brewing and Distilling found that while global beer consumption has been falling, the number of start-up breweries has increased with a focus on high quality specialist beers.  The report found that most of the growth has been in the micro-brewery market which now represents 83% of Scotland’s brewing base. 10% of Scottish breweries have sales over £1 million. Scottish brewing is recognised as having high value as it is linked with several other businesses including the malt sector.

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