New breweries boost European beer sector

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

New breweries boost European beer sector

Related tags European union United kingdom

The number of active breweries in the EU has doubled since 2008 – reaching more than 6,500 today – according to figures released by industry association The Brewers of Europe. 

Around 650 breweries opened in 2014 alone: an 11% increase from 2013.

The figures testify to the ‘positive story of beer,’ says the association, highlighting the economic contribution the beverage makes to the region.

The blossoming of new breweries

The data covers the 28 EU member states, looking at trends since 2009 and the key figures for 2014. The figures were compiled using information from national brewers’ associations.

The UK boasts the highest number of active breweries (1,700), followed by Germany (1,352), France (663) and Italy (599). There are 6,517 active breweries in the 28 EU countries; or 7,086 when the data includes Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. This compares to 3,468 (or 3,781) in 2009

There are 4,537 microbreweries in the EU (defined as a brewery with a yearly production of less than 1,000 hl) which compares to 2,123 in 2009.

number of active breweries in 2014
Number of active breweries: 2014

Economic impact

The beer industry was hit hard in 2008-2009, with the economic crisis, but The Brewers of Europe say the figures show the industry is well on the road to recovery.

“There are a number of facets to this “Positive Story of Beer”, ranging from the blossoming of new breweries to fast developing exports, innovative approaches to consumer information, partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders to promote responsible beer consumption, and better recognition by decision-makers and opinion formers that the beer value chain can and does engineer economic growth,” ​said Demetrio Carceller, president of The Brewers of Europe.

“The opening of so many new breweries is a sure sign of confidence and trust in the sector, and is a strong indicator that brewing will be a motor of Europe’s economic development in the years to come.”

Key statistics for 2014

Germany produces the most beer, followed by the UK and Poland.

Czech Republic is the biggest consumer per capita, followed by Germany and Austria.

The UK has the most active breweries, microbreweries, and active brewing companies.

Germany is the biggest employer in the beer industry.

Germany, Netherlands and Belgium are the biggest exporters of beer. 

The diversity and quality of choice for consumers also boosts the industry, he added.

The Brewers of Europe gesture to the beer industry’s role in the economy, with a 3.9% increase in direct jobs between 2013 and 2014. This also leads to further jobs in the value chain in areas such as hospitality, supply, brewing and retail.

Exports, too, contribute to the economy: reaching 8bn litres in 2014.

However, Carceller warns that the industry needs to see appropriate policies to ensure its long term success.

“Sustained growth must be accompanied by supportive policies to enable brewers to continue contributing to the overall competitiveness of the European economy. For example, although some high taxing countries have decreased the beer tax, there are still many governments who overload the tax burden on beer consumers and the brewing sector when compared to other sectors.”

The full Beer Statistics 2015 edition (which includes figures on per capita beer consumption, the split between on-trade and off-trade, packaging, exports and employment) can be found here.

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