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A European brewing sector - with a global significance

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By Rachel Arthur+

05-Dec-2016
Last updated on 05-Dec-2016 at 14:32 GMT2016-12-05T14:32:45Z

Beer: connecting Europe with the world. Pic:iStock/Sergey_Peterman
Beer: connecting Europe with the world. Pic:iStock/Sergey_Peterman

Beer production and consumption is on the rise within the EU, but trade with the rest of the world is also becoming increasingly significant, according to the Brewers of Europe. 

In fact, beer is growing at the fastest rate among the top 10 food and drinks products in the EU by export value. At current rates of growth, the Brewers of Europe predict that beer will be up from 10th place to 6th place next year.

Top destinations for European beer are the US, China and Canada; and EU brewers are now trading with 123 countries around the world.

“The continued success of the EU brewing sector relies on the EU connecting its internal market to the rest of the world,” says The Brewers of Europe, a trade association for the industry.

It also adds that the importance of beer trading goes beyond the economic impact: it can be a force for sustainable development in emerging countries.

Export figures

In 2015 European beer exports rose to 82m hectoliters, an increase of 7% year-on-year.

In 2008, exports out of the EU accounted for 16% of the total. In 2015, the proportion more than doubled to 35%.

European brewers have benefited from EU trade policy of liberalization and the opening of new markets, and vice versa, says the Brewers of Europe.

“The global beer network can be a good indicator of the openness of countries in facilitating knowledge, people and investment flows,” says The Brewers of Europe.

Beer trading: imports and exports

Over the 20 years between 1993 to 2012, the trading ties of EU brewers have grown to 123 countries outside of EU. Furthermore, the EU countries are among the top three import partners of no less than 97 countries outside of the EU.

The EU is also home to the headquarters of the world’s largest brewing companies, and The Brewers of Europe says that these multinationals play a role in European investment in emerging markets in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

“Beer trading is more than economic exchange: it is an exchange of culture and prestige and a force for sustainable development in emerging countries.

"By setting up production locally, contract farming schemes and investments by the brewing sector generate a high level of employment, improve supply chain management and raise grain productivity – while enforcing solid standards and human rights.

“The success of the EU brewing sector relies on the EU connecting its internal market to the rest of the world.

"Brewers are also often well placed to lead the charge for fairness in trade agreements, calling for equivalent treatment of products and pushing for elimination of the type of tax discrimination that particularly affects small businesses.”

The report can be found in full here.

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