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10th Apr, 2024

Adam Buckland
Adam Buckland
Job Title
Divisional Managing Director - Scientific

Craft beer

Once a niche market, craft beers have exploded into the mainstream, captivating consumers with diverse flavours and artisanal appeal.

Despite pandemic- and inflation-related challenges, the UK’s craft beer industry is continuing to see growth. With increasing demand from UK-based beer enthusiasts seeking intricate IPA and pale ale flavours, there has been a surge in new craft breweries entering the market. According to IBISWorld, the industry is valued at £1.7 billion, with an estimated 2,064 businesses and 11,919 employees.

Often aiming to emulate the success of companies like BrewDog and Beavertown, we have seen an increase of startups entering the space, fuelling innovation yet intense competition. This boom in the market is testament to the power of entrepreneurialism. Many craft brewers are passionate people driven by a desire to create something distinctive and authentic. As a result, recruitment in this sector is experiencing a shift towards talented professionals who can demonstrate a blend of creativity, technical expertise, and business acumen. Startups are actively scouting for brewers, marketers, and sales professionals who can drive growth in a fiercely competitive market.

However, the rise of alcohol-free alternatives is likely to add pressure to this market – something that independent brewers will need to consider in order to futureproof their business.

Alcohol-free alternatives

Rising demand for alcohol-free beverages is driven by health- and environmentally-conscious consumers seeking alternatives that allow them to indulge without the negative effects of alcohol. Brands are recognising this shift and expanding their product ranges to include a variety of alcohol-free options, from zero alcohol spirits and beers, to fruity mocktails.

The Portman Group’s sixth annual survey shows that young people are the largest consumers of low- and no-alcohol alternatives, with 44% of 18-24 year olds considering themselves either an ‘occasional’ or ‘regular’ drinker of alcohol alternatives, compared to 31% in 2022.

This increase plays an important role in tackling the country’s wider issues with alcohol. In 2022, the number of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales reached an all-time-high. The Office for National Statistics reported a total of 7,423 alcohol-specific deaths during that year - a substantial increase to the 5,698 reported in 2019. Expanding the availability and accessibility of non-alcoholic beverages could improve the nation’s health, minimise demand on the NHS, and ultimately save lives.

It presents a unique opportunity for professionals, as companies are seeking out talented people who are capable of crafting compelling marketing campaigns, developing innovative recipes, and tapping into new distribution channels to capture a growing market segment.

Wellness and functional drinks

The wellness movement has spurred the popularity of functional beverages – drinks infused with health-promoting ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and botanical extracts. The health-conscious consumer is looking for drinks that go beyond refreshment, wanting products that offer tangible benefits such as increased energy and cognitive function and better gut health.

Authenticity in this space is key. Drinks that simply claim to ‘contain Vitamin C’ are no longer sufficient for many – consumers are more informed than ever and expect accurate claims and full transparency of amounts, ingredients, and sources. And it’s not just about building trust with consumers. The primary aim of the Health Claims Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 legislation is to safeguard consumers by regulating nutrition and health claims on food and drink labels, presentation, and advertisements, ensuring that these claims are accurate, precise, truthful, and backed by valid evidence acknowledged by the scientific community.

This is resulting in a growing demand for scientists in the sector, as well as nutritionists and product developers who can blend science with consumer appeal.

In conclusion

The drinks industry is in the midst of a remarkable evolution, driven by shifting consumer preferences and a wave of entrepreneurial energy. From the craft beer renaissance to the rise of alcohol-free alternatives and the emphasis on wellness, these trends are reshaping recruitment strategies and creating new opportunities for talent across various disciplines. Companies need to adapt, innovate, and anticipate consumer needs for success.

If you are looking for a talented professional to join your team, or seeking a new opportunity yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist scientific, food & FMCG consultants today.