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Why does craft beer cost so much?


Image from brubrewery.ie

Image from brubrewery.ie

I’ve often wondered why craft beer costs more than our normal mass-produced and popular brands. Is it because it tastes better – like the Bru brand to the left, it’s really nice. Or because it cost more to produce? Or the smaller breweries have less economies of scale? Or does tax have something to do with it. It may be a combination of all of these, or some other factors I have not mentioned. However, a quick search of the internet revealed the answer to me – it is about cost of production, but not the raw materials. It is also about volume, but not volume sales.

An article I found on the Huffington Post is a good example of the cost issue faced by craft brewers. If you look at the article, you will see that largest cost item is packaging – the bottle and label you may think. A bit of further digging around the internet revealed that the greatest part of the packaging cost is shipping. But not shipping to end customers, shipping to be bottled. It seems a bottling machine is quite expensive, and at small volumes is not easy for a craft brewery to purchase. Instead, they often send the beer away in vats to be returned in bottles.  The Huffington Post article suggests that 50% of the cost to the customer is margin. I am not sure if this is the case in Europe, but certainly small craft breweries are unlikely to be able to invest in a large bottling plant at the outset. As volume increase, they may be able to do so. Let them stay small I say, the variety of beers is better then.

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About martinjquinn

I am an accounting academic, accountant and author based near Dublin, Ireland.

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