Scottish beer and pubs add £1.6bn to ‘local and national’ economy

As businesses across the UK continue to struggle in an uncertain economic climate, several reports have been commissioned stressing the value of Scottish beer.

Beer, whether sold in a pub or in the off-trade, offers a “huge economic contribution” to local communities, according to a report commissioned by the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA).

Overall, beer and pub activity in Scotland employs 66,830 people, and adds £1.66 billion to the Scottish economy.

The report, published ahead of the Scottish Government budget on Wednesday, also showed that the beer and pub sector in Scotland generated £176m of net capital expenditure in 2016.

Separately, the country’s pub sector contributes around £1.15 billion, while the brewing side nets £500 million.

Adrian Cooper, CEO of Oxford Economics, which carried out the SBPA’s study, added that the brewing sector is an “important source of employment and output at a national and local level.”

The largest economic benefits are in Glasgow and the Lothians, with over 24,000 people employed in the sector across Scotland’s two biggest cities.

Scotland Food and Drink said it wants Scottish brewed beer to be the “most desirable in the world” in a report published by the industry body on 6 December which pledged to turn the nation’s brewing businesses into a £1 billion industry by 2030.

The number of breweries in Scotland has also risen by 229% since 2010, according to the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICE), and supports more than 8,000 jobs.

In November, Innis & Gunn announced plans to build a new brewery in Edinburgh, the first large brewery to be built in the city for 150 years.

“Scotland has a precious reputation for brewing quality and there are many opportunities for future growth” Hilary Jones, who chairs the Brewing Industry Leadership Group, an industry body set up by Scotland Food & Drink to boost beer local sales, said.

“We need a new national and unified approach which maximises potential and drives quality.”

The news came shortly after a white paper from the Brewers of Europe, which was published last week, showed that the vast majority of all beer consumed in Britain is bought in from EU member states.

British pubs, bars, restaurants and retailers bought more than 1 billion hectolitres (hl) of foreign beer last year, around 87% of which was sourced from inside the EU. With the UK still set to break ties with Europe in March, a several reports have been commissioned this year to highlight the economic significance of the UK’s food and drink sector.

Jones said she wants consumers to “buy Scottish beer, rather than imported beer and to drink beer responsibly.”

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