The volumes of craft beer produced over the past five years has almost trebled, Stats NZ figures released today show.

Last year alone, the volume of high-strength beer increased by 21 per cent - the rise in craft beer was partly offset by a fall in lower-strength beers, Stats NZ said.

New Zealand's beer industry worth $2.3 billion
Lion's $20m craft beer gamble at Hobsonville Point hangar

The volume of high-strength beer reached 35 million litres in 2018, accounting for more than 10 per cent of all beer available.


Figures show the overall volume of beer in the market increased 1.4 per cent last year, up from a 1.2 per cent fall recorded a year earlier.

Stats NZ international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said volume increases reflected the rising popularity of craft beer.

New Zealand's beer industry is worth $2.3 billion and is made up of 218 breweries, according to a report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER).

There are 4.6 breweries for every 100,000 people in the country - more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Craft beer has been growing exponentially since 2008 and last year represented 10 per cent of all sales, the report outlined.

Around 83 per cent of the beer available for consumption last year was made in New Zealand and 17 per cent was imported.

Just 10 per cent of all beer produced in New Zealand is exported.

Other figures released today show spirits and spirit-based drinks such as RTDs are amongst the fastest growing sectors in the alcoholic drinks market.


Total spirit volumes rose 4.9 per cent last year and volumes for traditional spirits such as whiskey and gin increased 5.5 per cent.

Volumes of wine in the market fell 1.3 per cent last year.

In 2018, there was enough alcohol in the domestic market for each adult New Zealander to have 2 standard drinks per day.

"In 2010, the average adult would have had about 800 standard drinks available to consume. By 2018, that was down to about 730 a year," Islam said.

Visitors to New Zealand spent $242 million on beer last year.