In early 2021 we began working with Brewlab Ltd and Welsh breweries to determine the feasibility of collaborative innovation opportunities within the sector. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of the hospitality sector across Wales, the scope of the project shifted towards efficiency savings and initiatives that supported recovery.
Brewlab is a recognised industry expert and supply a range of services to the brewing industry, from specialist training courses geared towards new breweries, to seasoned professionals. They support new product development, provide laboratory services, optimise quality control processes, and consult on operational efficiency. As industry experts, they were selected to work with Welsh breweries to identify and evaluate innovative co-operation opportunities that can benefit the participating breweries and sector as a whole.
Following the easing of restrictions, Brewlab visited and interviewed seven Welsh breweries as part of the study. Their investigation was supplemented with online market research, due to the protracted closure of the sector and initial inaccessibility to the breweries due to the pandemic.
To evaluate where support could be provided, the study focused on the following areas of inter-brewery collaboration:
- Diversification of product portfolios – i.e., is there a market for specific new products – low and no alcohol beers (NABLABS), gluten free, nutritional beers, heritage beers?
- What additional skills and training are required by small breweries to develop new products?
- Can breweries work together to develop on-site packaging?
- What areas of collaboration between breweries are feasible and add value?
- Can product packaging be improved in terms of quality and cost?
- Are savings available in the areas of ingredients, energy and management?