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European brewing sector ‘firmly on the path to prosperity’

By Rachel Arthur+

01-Dec-2016
Last updated on 01-Dec-2016 at 14:17 GMT2016-12-01T14:17:32Z

Beer is back, says The Brewers of Europe. Pic:istock/william87
Beer is back, says The Brewers of Europe. Pic:istock/william87

Beer is experiencing a renaissance in Europe, with 7,500 breweries and an industry that adds the equivalent of the GDP of Luxembourg annually to EU output, according to the latest figures from The Brewers of Europe. 

The range of beer cultures in Europe; the variety of styles and flavors produced; and the option of lower-alcohol beverages for health conscious consumers is helping boost the industry.

The Brewers of Europe represents brewers and brewers’ associations from 29 European countries. While the beer industry was hit by the global economic downturn in 2008, the organisation says the industry has since seen a renaissance with more than 36bn litres of beer consumed in the EU in 2015.

Consumption and production are seeing year-on-year rises from 2014 to 2015 of 1% in consumption and 1.4% in production.

Diversity and variety

The region now has 7,500 active breweries: almost twice the number of 2010. In particular, 588 new microbreweries were established in the year from 2014 to 2015, a rise of 13%. The Brewers of Europe sees this as a ‘sure sign of confidence and trust in the sector’.

The number of brewers also helps boost the vitality of the sector thanks to the variety of brews produced, it adds.

“The trend [of more breweries opening] attests to the high level of consumer interest in the diversity and variety of Europe’s many different beer cultures,” said Pavlos Photiades, President of The Brewers of Europe.

As well as championing the variety of cultures and beer styles found across Europe, brewers are being inventive with constant innovation in new styles and flavors, he added.

Variety in alcoholic strengths

Beer differentiates itself from other alcoholic beverage categories in that it offers a wide range of alcoholic strengths. With health conscious consumers taking increasing prominence, Europe has seen the market for non-alcoholic and low alcohol beers double from 2000 to 2015.

Beers below 3% ABV now account for some 6% of the overall market, reaching up to 14% in some countries.

“Such beers are proving ideal for occasions where people wish to a have a great tasting drink but either cannot, or do not wish to, consume more or any alcohol, for example before driving or when pregnant,” said Photiades.

Also appealing to the health-conscious consumer is the increasing number of brewers who are voluntarily providing ingredient and nutrition facts on their products.

Figures for 2015 from The Brewers of Europe's Beer Statistics 2016 edition

Economic impact

The Brewers of Europe emphasize that the sector has a key role to play with regards to the economy, jobs and growth in Europe.

In fact, beer adds the equivalent of the GDP of Luxembourg - around €51bn - annually to EU output; and more than €11bn in excise revenues for governments.

The sector provides more than 120,000 direct jobs in the EU, but nearly 95% of beer-generated employment occurs outside the brewing companies themselves. Each brewery job is the catalyst for further jobs across the entire value chain, creating over 17 jobs in the wider economy, making a total of 2.3 million.

Exports have also grown considerably: in 2015 exports rose to 82 million hectolitres, an increase of 7% year-on-year.

You can find the full 2016 edition of Beer Statistics from The Brewers of Europe here.

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