The industry body says beer generates 2m jobs in the EU, and supports economic growth and prosperity. But policies which aim to target alcohol misuse end up annoying moderate consumers instead – and risks damaging the sector, it adds.
From crisis to the creation of growth
The beer market was bashed by the economic crisis in 2008 – falling 8% - with the problems felt acutely in bars, pubs and restaurants. But Demetrio Carceller, president of The Brewers of Europe, told BeverageDaily.com things have changed.
“There is definitely a big opportunity for growth in the beer market if we can get people back out, socialising again, consuming beer, creating growth in the European beer market but also creating growth in the wider economy,” he said.
In fact, the EU beer market has stabilised since 2010, and although there are some differences between countries there are markets that are growing again.
“Beer alone generates 2m jobs in the EU, of which around 1.4 million are in the hospitality sector,” continued Carceller. “Governments across the EU seem progressively to be recognising the job creation potential of the beer sector and reflecting this in their fiscal policies. With a supportive regulatory and fiscal environment that recognises the characteristics of beer and the brewing sector, there are key opportunities for growing the European beer market.”
Out of the 2m jobs created by beer, 72% (1.4m) of these are in the hospitality sector, according to figures from the Brewers of Europe.
16% are in the supply sector, 6% are found in the brewing companies, and 6% in retail.
However, it is not all plain sailing, warns Carceller.
“Unfortunately, for every government that recognises the contribution a flourishing beer sector can make to economic growth and prosperity, there is a government that sees the beer sector as a cash cow, to be milked through taxes whenever there is a need for short term cash,” he said.
“Such an approach in the long term harms not just the brewers but also the whole economy.”
“Another challenge is misguided people: not just governments but public health advocates who, in the pursuit of the noble cause of better health, put forward policies that fail to target the minority who misuse alcohol.
“Meanwhile, these annoy moderate consumers, damage the beer sector, harm the long value chain of which brewing is a part and even disrupt the positive contributions beer and brewing makes to the economy and society as a whole.
“Marketing and sponsorship bans are a case in point. These headline measures cost governments next to nothing to implement - but they also have no measurable effect on health. On the contrary they even cut some of the valuable investment that marketing and sponsorship brings to the free media and to the millions of cultural events and local sports clubs across the EU that depend on this support.”
In addition, with an increasing consciousness about health and wellness, people are turning away from alcoholic drinks. Is this going to put a dampener on the industry?
“It is true that many people are showing an increasing interest in healthy lifestyles,” said Carceller.
“But we don’t need to be disheartened. We just need to share the facts around beer, including its ingredients and nutritional values, and remind people that beer can perfectly have a place within an adult’s balanced diet and lifestyle.
Earlier this year The Brewers of Europe committed to list ingredients and nutritional information on beer, a voluntary move to bring the sector in line with the EU Regulation on Food Information to Consumers (FIC). This was backed by Heineken, Carlsberg, SAB Miller and AB InBev among others.
Increased diversity in the market also offers increased choice, such as the rise of non-alcoholic beer.
“In this age of transparency it is only fair that consumers can take those informed decisions and brewers shouldn’t fear society’s drive towards healthy living,” said Carceller.