#BeerServesEurope is an opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future contributions that the brewing sector makes to Europe’s culture and economy, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Europe’s over 10,000 breweries.
On December 8, 2022, the Brewers of Europe invited friends to celebrate the ninth edition of Beer Serves Europe. Brewers are ready to return stronger and better in 2023, and the sector is optimistic about returning to its pre-pandemic heights in 2023.
The Beer Serves Europe event was also an opportunity to look forward to engaging on important legislative files this year including the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.
The Brewers of Europe Secretary General Pierre-Olivier Bergeron said the beer sector remained positive in its outlook as it recovered from the pandemic-induced lockdowns, despite rising energy costs and the more recent disruptions to key supply chains, including grain, glass and even the carbon dioxide needed for bottling.
In a keynote address, Guillaume Couture, CEO of Malteries Soufflet, one of the world’s leading producers of barley malt, a key ingredient in most beers, gave his perspective on the mutual dependence of brewers and maltsters and the knock-on effect of the energy crisis all along the beer value chain, from grain to glass.
Mr Bergeron reminded guests at Beer Serves Europe IX that, throughout that chain, beer creates an estimated 2.3 million jobs, over €55 billion in value-added and more than €40 billion in government tax revenues annually.
Mr Bergeron also revealed the latest figures showing a slight uptick in EU beer production in 2021, up by 1.6 billion to 34.3 billion litres when compared to 2020, although that was still well down on pre-pandemic levels.
Consumption has also continued to evolve as Europe’s beer renaissance develops with more innovation and an ever growing choice for consumers. Indeed, at a recent event in Brussels, The Brewers of Europe was able to serve up a selection of 40 different non-alcoholic beers, reflecting the growing diversity in this category where non-alcoholic beer now represents over five percent of the EU beer market.
Brewery numbers are no longer increasing at quite the same pace, with the closure of bars and restaurants during the last two years taking its toll on the brewers dependent on these venues to reach their consumers. However, there are now an estimated 9,500 breweries operating in the EU, innovating to meet consumer demand.
Even though the brewing sector faces several challenges, brewers remain upbeat as they forge a sustainable future for the sector. “The past three years have been challenging for all of us involved in brewing,” Mr Bergeron said. “The multiple lockdowns put a lot of breweries at risk. However, I am confident that, as we recover and innovate, we will be able to grow again. Furthermore, we will do so sustainably, as we put in place more and more environmentally friendly practises.”
Commemorating the Czech Presidency of the EU, Beer Serves Europe IX also paid tribute to the contribution of beer to the Czech society and economy, and the vital role that Czech brewers have played in the evolution of beer culture globally. A keynote address was delivered by Tomáš Slunečko, Senior Agricultural Secretary and Chair of the Council Working Party on Food & Food Systems, whilst Martina Ferencová, Executive Director of the Czech Beer & Malt Association closed the academic session by inviting guests to a reception supported by the Czech brewers.
Beer Serves Europe IX included a moderated debate entitled “Beyond crisis management: a sustainable pathway for Europe’s beer sector” where other guests were invited to join the panel, including Ivan Štefanec, Member of the European Parliament; Mattia Pellegrini, DG Environment at the European Commission; Drahomira Mandíková, Asahi Europe & International; and Harry Foster, The RepTrak Company.
In his remarks on circularity, Mr Bergeron cited the numerous sustainability initiatives by brewers across Europe to reduce beer’s environmental footprint, including in packaging. “We take our responsibility seriously to limit the environmental impact of packaging throughout the life-cycle, reducing, reusing and recycling our beer packaging,” he said.
In the wake of the European Commission’s November 30 proposal for a Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, Mr Bergeron said, “Europe’s brewers are looking forward to working with Member States and the European Parliament to ensure legislation that is proportionate, well-targeted, non-discriminatory and coherent.”
With 30 billion litres of beer consumed in the EU in 2021, it is clear that Europe’s brewers have a bright future ahead of them. By conducting its business responsibly, sustainably, inclusively and creatively, the brewing sector is sure to continue serving European culture, society and the economy.