The beer market is on course for dramatic changes. In less than 10 years the off-trade's share will climb from 30% to 40% and lager will account for 75% of the volume. These are some of the conclusions of a detailed analysis carried out for the Whitbread 2000 Market Report. It predicts the pace of change will escalate with more mergers and acquisitions taking place among retailers and suppliers. "The beer market will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 15," it says. Whitbread marketing and sales director Stewart Gilliland emphasised the key dynamics in the market place. People are spending more time at home where the key drinking occasion is while watching TV. The on-trade accounted for 84% of beer value last year, but its volume share was less than 70%. This highlights the deflation in take home pricing. "Prices are the same as they were four or five years ago. The retailers have been cutting their own margins to get to these levels." The report shows that big brands are increasing their dominance. The value share taken by the top 10 beers has increased from 31% of the total market in 1989 to 48% in 1999. Gilliland said: "They command a price premium so their growing dominance builds market value. Significantly it is no longer the category performance that defines how big brands are doing. Increasingly they are operating outside the category." {{DRINKS }}

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