Exports drive beer boom
18. 4. 2016 | Source: BusinessInfo.cz
Breweries last year turned out a record 20.1 million hectolitres of the amber nectar.
Unprecedented exports have more than countered the impact of stagnation in the domestic beer market. Last year, beer production sold abroad surged 13 percent year on year, to hit 4.1 million hectolitres. It meant exports grew for the fifth year in a row and at the highest ever tempo. That pushed the overall volume produced by domestic breweries to 20.1 million hectolitres, with growth in 2015 recorded at 2.2 percent. It was the first time in the Czech Republic's post-revolution history that beer output exceeded 20 million hectolitres.
"We've never before managed to export so much beer. And it happened while exports lost around 100,000 hectolitres because of the Russian embargo and changes in the rouble exchange rate," said the head of the Czech-Moravian Association of Breweries and Malthouses, Zdeněk Šámal. Beer exports to Russia fell from 250,000 hectolitres to 150,000 hectolitres. Even so, the Russian market was still the biggest outside of the EU. Within that bloc, Slovakia and Germany were the dominant importers.
The production level of beer made for the Czech market essentially stayed flat. It meant that for the third year in a row the domestic beer volume moderately fell or stagnated. It has been unable to return to the levels seen before the economic crisis and the raising of beer consumption tax in January 2010.
Due to the slight fall in the Czech population last year, the country's average beer consumption per head per year declined by around a litre to 143 litres. But with that figure the Czechs can at least still say they lead the world.
From the vantage point of the brewers, a positive trend is the continuing switchover of consumers from cheap tapped beer (sometimes referred to as "10-degree") to more expensive lagers. In 2015, after many years, the market shares of both beer categories were roughly equal, at around 47 percent each. A decade ago, beer-on-tap stood at more than 65 percent, while the higher grade lagers could claim only about one-third of the market.
On the negative side, the brewers are seeing a continuing outflow of consumers away from the consumption of draught beer in restaurants and pubs and towards the drinking of cheap bottled beer from shops. The market share of sold packaged beer - in either glass or plastic bottles - last year crept up by a point or so to a clear three-fifths, with tapped beer falling to two-fifths. Ten years back the ratio was entirely to the contrary.
Originally published in E15 weekly, economic and business newsmagazine. Author: Dušan Kütner