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26th March 2019

Ale in cans sees largest growth as craft beers continue to lead the market

The latest research from Nielsen released today by the UK trade body for drinks cans, the Can Makers, reveals that growth of cans in the beer and cider market jumped by a further 6% in 2018. Sales of single can ales were the standout success story of the year.

Last year both cider and ale in cans grew by 9% respectively, with single beer cans seeing a 9% rise and single cider cans achieving an even more impressive 22% rise. Cider in PET bottles declined by 9%. Meanwhile, the overall market for beer and cider grew by 5% in 2018 in the Nielsen universe.

The rise of Ale

2018 was a popular year for ale brands: sales of single cans were up 62% last year. This is thanks largely to the craft phenomena which continues to be a highly popular drink for consumers and brewers.

The craft beer in cans market grew by a staggering 59% (YTD Jan 2019) whilst glass bottles of craft beer declined by 5%, according to Nielsen. Craft drinks makers and consumers alike continue to see the benefit of canned beers over other pack formats, whilst consumers are opting for smaller portion sizes that fit in with their lifestyle choices and come in a wider variety of flavours.

Customers enjoy the bold, vibrant 360-degree designs of craft beer cans and the fact they are easy to chill and carry around. Cans also protect the drink inside from light, so those great tasting beers aren’t affected.

Furthermore, aluminium cans are made from a permanent material and can be infinitely recycled because they don’t lose any of the material’s inherent quality – there is no ‘downcycling’. We are moving towards a true circular model and aluminium cans are very well suited for it.

Marcel Arsand, Chairman of the Can Makers, says, “We have seen a change in how customers choose to consume their alcoholic drinks, particularly as younger generations become more health conscious and choose to control their alcohol intake. The popularity of craft single cans suggests quality not quantity. Cans are perfect for individual servings. It is all about giving customers choice.”


Research conducted by Nielsen into the UK beer and cider market, 2018.

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About The Can Makers 

Members of the Can Makers work together specifically to promote the benefits of the drinks can and aid communications between the industry and its customers: the brewers and soft drinks manufacturers and the retailers, as well as the packaging industry, the media and consumers.

The Can Makers Information Service acts as the reference point for data and advice on the beverage can and the can manufacturing industry. Consumer opinion and industry research forms an important part of the Can Makers programme.

The Can Makers was the first organisation in Europe formed to promote drinks cans. It is part of a European network set up under Metal Packaging Europe (MPE), which includes similar country organisations across Europe.


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