Brussels – June 29, 2022 – Europe’s brewers could help drive the recovery from the Covid pandemic if decision-makers adopt the right measures to support the sector, The Brewers of Europe announced today.

As Europeans look ahead to their first summer in three years without Covid-19 restrictions on the hospitality sector and events, brewers are hopeful of a bounce back to pre-pandemic growth.

Commenting on Europe Economics’ new Covid impact report, The Brewers of Europe said that while beer hospitality has slowly been recovering from the pandemic, it is still in a precarious position. With appropriate support measures, brewers can however lead the way, reviving the economy.

Published on June 29, the Covid Impact Report reveals that, in 2021, there were shoots of recovery but the brewing sector saw only moderate increases in beer sales, as the hospitality sector failed to return to pre-pandemic levels. While 2021 saw the gradual return of European tourists in the summer, it also saw more hospitality shutdowns, strict opening rules, travel restrictions, vaccination and testing requirements and constantly changing rules, all combining to drive revenues down.

The report shows 2021 beer sales in bars, pubs and restaurants were still down by 35% on 2019, leaving the overall beer market still 8% down on pre-Covid levels.

Given the important contribution of beer to the European economy and the far-reaching connections throughout the beer value chain, the pandemic’s impact on brewing had knock-on effects on all the jobs, value-added and government revenues generated throughout the beer chain. And while Covid-19’s impact may be receding, the European economy is now facing new, additional pressures which will affect consumer spending and place greater financial burdens and uncertainty on many businesses.

As brewing and hospitality work to get back to where they were, much is at stake for the wider economy. Numbers from 2021 show that beer has a strong potential to drive Europe’s recovery, with the moderate growth still helping more than half the lost jobs to return and an additional €4 billion in taxes to be generated. A full recovery to pre-pandemic levels however can:

  • return a further €6.2 billion in value-added to the economy
  • retrieve 254,000 more jobs
  • bring in a further €6 billion in tax revenues for governments

Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe said the report shows the positive signs are there for the beer hospitality sector but more needs to be done. “This is still a difficult moment for the brewing and hospitality sectors and we cannot take anything for granted. Brewers have endured tough times, lasting far longer than anyone expected. We have only recovered part of what we lost,” he said.

Pre-pandemic, beer created 2.6 million jobs in Europe. We can rebuild all along the brewing, production and hospitality value chain. We can help drive consumer demand and boost consumer confidence. Bars and pubs can once again become pillars of the local community – and with it, the economy. But we need support. If policymakers are to nurture the sector – and see a return of tax revenues – they should be aware that many brewers still face huge battles to recover. With the right support, including through targeted fiscal measures, brewers and hospitality can once again become positive contributors to the economy, culture, society and the European way of life.

In contrast to the fortunes of wines and spirits, the Covid Impact Report shows beer production in 2021 in the Eurozone was still 11% below 2019 levels, reflecting beer’s close connections to hospitality, the local rootedness of brewing and beer’s perishable nature. Furthermore, with 2021 off-trade sales of beer in shops only 6% higher than 2019 numbers, it is clear that beer consumption remains closely tied to socialising and the community function of pubs, bars and restaurants.

The residual impact of the pandemic is being felt in 2022 as supply chains are pressured notably by the ongoing war in Ukraine and impending food security crisis. Brewers are facing challenges from energy prices, raw materials costs, glass supply, driver shortages and other global supply chain issues.

While overall beer volumes may return, it still remains unclear how quickly cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants – which previously represented one-third of overall beer sales – will return to pre-Covid conditions. This will have an effect on the structure of the beer market and its overall impact.

Still, brewers are naturally resourceful and positive people. We believe we can find solutions. The worst of the Covid pandemic is over: now is the time to start rebuilding. And, to coin a phrase, build back better.

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