Last year, 130,000 people in the UK signed up to Dry January and a booze-free start to the new year. Year-on-year the number of participants grows, with even more expected to take the pledge as Dry January celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2023. But while this 31-day abstinence promises to deliver health benefits and cost savings to the partakers, does this leave breweries high and…dry?
Andrew Furness, Sector Lead at Net Zero Now, offers some tips to help breweries use Dry January to seize sustainable advantage. “Breweries are having a tough time right now, with the rising costs of energy and ingredients combining to see the cost of brewing a pint increase by up to 26% in the last year. January is traditionally a quieter month for breweries and pubs and bars alike, as many people choose to scale back their drinking after the excesses of the festive period. Whilst this inevitably impacts on business, it also presents a real opportunity to take stock, and explore how small, sustainable changes can drive efficiencies and cost savings that will help breweries get ahead. Any ideas that work can drive positive impact for the rest of your year”
Tip # 1
If reduced trade opens up some extra time in your production schedule, use it to try out new, more sustainable, techniques and processes that could be scaled up in the future. Explore whether changing your cleaning/rinsing practices could work for your brewery to drive down the amount of water you use. See if you can get ahead of rising carbon dioxide costs by looking into whether carbon capture units can be introduced to recover the CO2 produced during fermentation. And find out whether new delivery methods, such as electric/bicycle cargo, increased MOQs & grouping delivery areas are a viable option to drive down your costs and emissions.
Tip # 2
Ring in the new year with some packaging innovations. Switching to cans or even lightweighting your glass bottles will improve your efficiency, reduce your emissions and bring down costs. Scale up the successful actions after January is over once you’ve proved the beer still tastes just as great.
Tip # 3
The market for low/no alcoholic drinks continues to grow much faster than that for alcoholic products – particularly among younger consumers - and is expected to reach €1.3bn by 2025. As well as the commercial advantages of tapping into this growing market, low/no alcohol beers naturally have a lower impact, because they tend to use less barley. See if any brewing techniques or recipes from lower alcohol beer production could be replicated in your core range, or if you could introduce a higher % of low-alcohol/low-ingredient beers into your overall offering.
Tip # 4
Make sure that you’re geared up for the growing number of people who will also be cutting out meat, fish and dairy as they participate in Veganuary. Experiment with removing brewing aids like lactose and isinglass, which contain animal products, and also carry higher emissions. This will also enhance your offer to the on trade as pubs, restaurants look to have a pool of options that suit all preferences.
Tip # 5
Pubs and bars are likely to have a quieter start to the new year too, so it’s a great time to strike up conversations and explore sustainable opportunities together. See if you can agree more efficient delivery/pick-up options, discuss turning off coolers during winter months where possible without affecting quality and any other initiatives that your favourite customers can help with. If your customers get on board with sustainable changes like these, this helps you with your downstream emissions (and their upstream and onsite emissions) and ensures that your beer is on its way to a net zero journey.
Tip # 6
If you have a taproom, run brewery tours, or have an active fan-base; initiatives could also be created to inspire change and impact far and wide. Ask your customers to bring back their cans/bottles in return for a free half-pint, reward those who take public transport or cycle/walk to you and offer discounts for full-case orders. Let us know of any other innovative ways you interact with climate-conscious beer-drinkers!
And, if you want to explore exactly how going Net Zero can work for your brewery, our dedicated team of specialists is here to help. We’ve created a pathway that’s specifically designed for breweries, and our Net Zero Now platform includes all the tools you need to reach Net Zero. If you’re a brewery that’s looking forward to the future, make 2023 the year that you start your Net Zero journey.
Let this January be an opportunity to steer real change within your brewery & your customers.