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Alltech releases first Global Craft Beer Survey, against backdrop of AB InBev/SABMiller deal

November 9, 2015

[DUNBOYNE, Ireland] – 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 expert 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. The Asia-Pacific region currently has 661 craft breweries.

“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. “Alltech’s history is rooted as a supplier of yeast not only to the animal nutrition industry but also to the beverage industry. It has been 15 years since we acquired the Lexington Brewing Company 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. While Japan leads the Asia-Pacific region with 200 craft breweries, New Zealand is by far the leader in the number of breweries per head of population with 23 times more breweries per head than Japan.”

The Global Craft Beer Survey raises some questions in regard to uptake of the craft brewing phenomenon in the Asia-Pacific region. 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. Born and raised in Ireland, Lyons hails from five generations of coopers who supplied barrels to distilleries for a quarter of a century. While completing his degree at the British School of Malting and Brewing, he interned at both the Guinness and Harp Lager breweries and later worked as a biochemist for Irish Distillers, makers of the beloved Jameson whiskey. In the U.S., he founded biotechnology company Alltech and acquired his own brewery, which today is Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., the maker of award-winning barrel-aged beers and spirits.

Alltech is responsible for The Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair held annually in Ireland. The event returns to Dublin’s Convention Centre Feb. 5 – 7, 2016. Exhibitor space has almost sold out, proving the popularity of craft beverages in Europe.