Beer production down slightly in 2021 / Article

Despite a large number of breweries and some very good beers, Latvia remains a half-pint producer compared to the behemoths of European brewing.

Last year, EU Member States produced 33.1 billion liters of beer containing alcohol and almost 1.7 billion liters of beer containing less than 0.5% alcohol or without alcohol content at all.

Compared to 2020, EU production of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer has increased. Non-alcoholic beer production increased the most, by almost 20%, while beer containing alcohol increased by almost 3%. In 2021, total beer production in the EU was equivalent to almost 78 liters per capita. For Latvia, the equivalent figure is around 38 liters per capita.

Among the EU Member States for which data is available, in both 2021 and 2020, Germany was the leading producer with 7.5 billion liters (23% of total EU production). This means that around one in four beers containing alcohol produced in the EU come from Germany.

Beer producers in the EU, 2021

Photo: Eurostat

Germany was followed by Poland and Spain, both with 3.7 billion liters produced, or 11% of total EU production, and the Netherlands with 2.5 billion liters, 7% of total EU production.

Production in these four countries accounts for 52% of total EU beer production.

The Netherlands remained the leading exporter of alcoholic beer in 2021, just like in 2020. The Netherlands exported a total (intra- and extra-EU) of 1.9 billion liters of alcoholic beer in 2021, or 21% of total EU beer exports.

The Netherlands were followed by Belgium (1.7 billion litres; 19%) and Germany (1.6 billion litres; 17%), followed by France and the Czech Republic (each 0.5 billion liters; 6%).

With regard to the main destinations for beer exports to third countries, the United Kingdom (902 million litres; 22% of total extra-EU beer exports) and the United States (765 million litres; 19 %) were the main partners, followed by Russia (391 million litres; 9%), China (340 million litres; 8%) and South Korea (168 million litres; 4%).

In terms of imports, France remained the leading importer of alcoholic beer in 2021, with 0.8 billion liters, or 16% of total EU imports (intra- and extra-EU). Italy and Germany imported almost 0.7 billion liters (13%), followed by the Netherlands (0.6 billion litres; 12%) and Spain (0.5 billion liters ; 10%).

Imports of alcoholic beers from countries outside the EU are marginal compared to imports within the EU. When importing from third countries, Member States favored British beer (248 million litres; 47% of all extra-EU beer imports in 2021 and Mexican beer (122 million litres; 23% respectively) Serbia (46 million litres; 9%), Belarus (26 million litres; 5%) and Ukraine (17 million litres; 3%) followed on the list of main import partners, but with much lower values.

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