One of the reasons I started writing Beer Means Business was the lack of specific interest in the business of new wave brews in the UK (and Europe). Although this sector should deserve credit through distinction, reporters have flattered it with using terms, statistics and analyses from North America without further comment. There are differences between the beer markets demonstrated by basic numbers and calculations.
Theoretically, on a perfect market all the breweries would have their fair share. Considering that most businesses start small, and the nature of beer (heavy burden of transportation) breweries are meant to be local. For illustration (without the contribution of international trade), this means the fair share for one brewery is:
- 58,293 hl beer for 77,000 people in the USA
- 25,885 hl beer for 38,000 people in the UK
- 54,317 hl beer for 78,000 people in the EU
Although, the USA seems quite similar to the European Union, the specific character of the UK shows clearly in this comparison. Obviously, the markets are far from perfect: according to MarketWatch, 90% of the market in the USA was dominated by only 9 players in 2014. Based on a report by The Guardian, the same number was relatively lower in the UK, the 9 largest companies owned less than 85% of the market.
In summary, the differences in the potential scale for one brewery and the concentration of both power and market suggest different motivations behind breweries in the UK and the USA.