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Cask Ale is increasingly recognised as one of the star performers in a difficult on-trade market. It is only available in pubs and a well-kept cask ale is viewed as an index of a good quality, well looked after pub, so for these reasons the category is worth serious consideration and scrutiny. Moreover, Cask Ale creates a unique value chain in pubs that stock a broad range of products.
Cask beer drinkers are among the most affluent of pub customers, with a 68% ABC1 rating; consequently, they are more likely to have a higher disposable income and to visit the pub more frequently than other drinkers.
Crucially for this sector, there has been a discernible growth in the number of people drinking cask ale in recent years,
with the number of female drinkers doubling year on year. In volume terms Cask Ale is outperforming not just all other
draught beers but almost every other drink on the bar, including wine and spirits. It has therefore helped pubs to counter
the effects of the recession, with evidence showing that cask beer pubs are less likely to close than pubs generally.
In terms of market share, it will come as no surprise that Cask Ale is doing very well indeed, increasing its share not just
of the total ale market, but also of total on-trade beer; up 12% in 2007, followed by and increase of 13.5% in 2008*. Cask
Ale currently represents 34.5% of all ale in the on-trade, and ACNeilsen estimates that the Cask Ale market now has a
retail value of £1.7 billion.
2009 saw a modest 0.04% growth for Cask Ale, comparing favourably with a 5% fall in on trade beer sales. Among smaller
brewers, total cash volumes were up by over 1% and turnover by an average of 16%.
With 400,000 new Cask Ale drinkers entering the picture in 2008 and the number of people who have ever tried cask ale is increasing by 35% to 50% year on year, Cask ale drinkers now constitute a very important and significant proportion of the market.
Support from Cask Marque, an increasing number of relevant festivals including Cask Ale week, improved presentation and proliferation of branded glassware, and Cask Ale’s compatibility with many pub food meals using locally sourced foods have all helped rejuvenate this sector in recent years and put it in an enviable position to consolidate its significance in the future.
Taking all this into account, Cask Ales can definitely help to achieve higher turnover in pubs and this sector is now widely recognised as a powerful driver of both footfall and profitability.
*AC Neilsen Cask Ale Report