The diversity of Europe’s ‘colourful’ beer market could be the key to its success

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The diversity of Europe’s ‘colourful’ beer market could be the key to its success

Related tags Beer Alcoholic beverage European union Brewers

The sheer diversity of Europe’s beer market is one of its biggest strengths: opening up the market to new consumers, and boosting export potential, according to The Brewers of Europe.

Non-alcoholic beer, and beverages which appeal to women, are among the opportunities.

The industry body, which represents 5,000 brewers and national brewers’ associations, is celebrating European Beer Day today.

It is exploring growth potential for the industry at a special event at World Expo 2015 in Milan.

The opportunities are out there

Headline global growth figures for beer aren’t particularly dramatic – they are not expected to exceed 3% according to Canadean. But beer is a resilient market, Demetrio Carceller, president of The Brewers of Europe, told ahead of today’s event in Milan.

“It’s true that growth figures globally aren’t spectacular, but the fact that there is growth shows there are opportunities out there and beer remains a popular choice,” ​said Carceller. “In the EU, the market has stabilised after the dramatic fall between 2008 and 2010, though there are some differences between countries and there are EU markets that are starting to grow again too.”

Have a beer – but which beer?

The diversity and choice served up by Europe’s beer sector “has perhaps never been so colourful,”​ said Carceller.

“The increasing diversity in the European beer market is a key characteristic [of the sector],” ​he said. “I think it is perfectly right to say that there are now beers out there for everyone and for every occasion.

“This diversity is opening up opportunities for finding new consumers. For too long, brewers have focused on a very narrow consumer demographic. But more and more women, for example, are coming to beer. This is a huge market that hasn’t yet really been cracked.”

Europe is also doing particularly well at exploring different alcoholic strengths – with high ABV products at one extreme and non-alcoholic beverages at the other.

“15 or 20 years ago, the taste of some of the non-alcoholic beers was a real turn-off for many consumers,” ​said Carceller. “But in Spain these days, non-alcoholic beer represents around 10% of the overall beer consumed. This is because brewers invested in the production and quality of these brews.

“They are thus a real alternative for those people who love the taste of beer but are maybe driving or simply don’t wish to drink alcohol at that time.”

Innovation and product development is coming from both small craft brands and multinational brewers – in fact, “everyone is at it,”​ said Carceller.

“The consumer’s growing interest in beer and the variety it offers is great news for all brewers, big and small.”


According to The Brewers of Europe, beer exports amount to 74m hectolitres. 60.8% of these are inside the EU, and 39.2% are outside.

“The variety in beer is stimulating interest in beer within the EU, including from consumers who maybe weren’t regular beer consumers,” ​said Carceller. “But it is also helping to grow exports both within and outside the EU. These have picked up even further in the last five or so years after beer consumption in the EU fell and then stabilised - and many brewers had to look to these markets to sustain and grow their business.

“Europe is famous for its quality beers and we need to seek growth from this opportunity.”

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