Does gluten-free beer have potential in Australia?

The rise of gluten-free is showing no signs of slowing down, and there’s a new player on the block: beer.

Overall growth in the beer manufacturing industry is stagnant, with and craft/premium beers dominating growth, according to the IBISWorld Beer Manufacturing industry in Australia market research report.

The industry is worth $5 billion overall and grew at only 0.1 per cent in 2010-15.

According to Euromonitor International, the gluten-free food market was worth A$246m in Australia in 2014, with an annual growth rate of 54 percent.  What’s more, it’s anticipated to reach A$437m in value by 2019. And now it’s entering beer.

Can this momentum be replicated within the alcoholic drinks arena?

Spiros Malandrakis, Euromonitor International Senior Alcoholic Drinks Analyst says it already has.

“Cider’s meteoric rise in the US market is largely relevant to the category’s naturally gluten-free attributes (alongside the savvy promotional campaigns underscoring the fact as a unique selling point). Spirits are also naturally gluten free – even though some recent launches seem to have only just got the memo and wear it as a badge of honour,” Malandrakis says.

In the UK, a brewery which claims to the be the UK's first to produce only gluten-free beers is due to open in Edinburgh next year.

The Bellfield Brewery is currently testing a premium gluten-free IPA beer before its release next year. A stout, a lager and other styles of beer will follow shortly. Having established a small-scale brewing site in Edinburgh, the company is now seeking GBP250,000 to scale up production to meet what its founders claim is a largely untapped market.

Does gluten-free beer have potential in Australia?

Although only making up a tiny proportion of the Australian beer market so far, there is good reason to believe that gluten-free beer might soon be an important growth market, says Daniel Grimsey, Senior Research Analyst, Euromonitor International.

Gluten-free beer in Australia would “potentially appeal not only to coeliac disease suffers, and those on a gluten-free diet, but also craft beer enthusiasts,” Grimsey says.

The major brands in Australian gluten-free beer are Schnitzer Brau (brewed in Offenburg, Germany) and O’Brien (brewed in Wendouree, Victoria).

“Gluten-free beer is typically produced with other non-gluten cereals such as sorghum and millet, giving it a similar appeal to other non-barley beers such as wheat beer, which grew by 13 percent in 2014.   There’s even an opportunity for gluten-free beer to play a similar role to that of low-carb beer, offering a health & wellness option that craft beer currently does not have.

“Its success of course, will all depend on how it tastes,” Grimsey says. 


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