Some of the world’s largest breweries have recently reported a decline in sales as they have admittedly failed to amend their brand portfolio to meet consumer trends. Sterile filtration could be the key to adapting to these changes to consumer behaviour.
Changing consumer trends
Modern beer drinkers are moving away from the traditional big brands and opting for increasingly sophisticated drinks such as craft beers. As a result, large breweries are experiencing a decline in sales, losing their market share to smaller breweries who are more on target with consumer preferences.
In an effort to regain market share, breweries are aiming to remodel their brands in order to appeal to the modern consumer. They have begun adapting to these changes through acquisition of popular craft breweries and marketing some of their brands as a more premium product, in an attempt to appeal to the sophisticated beer drinker.
Breweries of all capacities are beginning to realise that in order to protect their bottom line profits in such a competitive market they must amend their production process and fundamentally seek to produce higher quality beer at optimum cost efficiency.
The process of microbial stabilisation is an essential stage of all beer production, without which the product may succumb to spoilage due to bacterial contamination before it can be consumed. This process is typically achieved by one of a few methods: good sterile practice, tunnel pasteurisation, flash pasteurisation or sterile filtration.
Good sterile practice cannot guarantee complete product sterility and may result in huge product losses due to human error or environmental contamination regardless of protocols followed. Furthermore, tunnel pasteurisation is an out-dated method, which consumes enormous quantities of thermal energy, and is not always guaranteed to kill all suspended bacteria.
Today, therefore, the two primary methods of microbial stabilisation are flash pasteurisation and sterile filtration. However, the brewing industry is shifting away from flash pasteurisation as they discover the significant advantages to both operating costs and overall product quality of sterile filtration over flash pasteurisation.
Reducing costs and increasing flavour to meet consumption trends
The recent partnership between Parker and Agidens automation – experts of both automated sterile filtration modules and flash pasteurisation systems, have enabled Parker Bioscience to establish a comparison of the operating costs of flash pasteurisation vs sterile filtration using Parker's BEVPOR BR range of microfilter cartridges. The research measured the annual electricity consumption, the annual water consumption and the annual consumable spend of both sterile filtration and flash pasteurisation processes. The results concluded that these combined factors proved sterile filtration to be the most cost-effective method of microbial stabilisation, saving brewers up to 44% of their annual operating costs when compared to flash pasteurisation. Parker Bioscience offers a free full-cost analysis based on your breweries specific parameters, which can determine the cost savings of sterile filtration compared to your current method of microbial stabilisation.
Furthermore, working with a leading UK brewery, Parker has conducted a triangular taste test to compare the flavour qualities between the same beer when it was pasteurised and when it was sterile filtered. The results of the triangular taste test found that the beer which was pasteurised tasted more sulphuric, sweeter and softer – unwanted qualities by this brewery. Conversely, beer which was sterile filtered was determined to be more bitter and crisper, the qualities sought after by the brewery.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of sterile filtration for beer flavour and its impact on product losses? Download our complete whitepaper, Reducing the cost of microbial stabilisation of beer.