The figures come from Europe Economics which – following a request by the Brewers of Europe – recently published an update on its original economic report assessing the impact of Covid-19 on the brewing sector in 2020-21 to show any impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions beyond 2020.
This indicates that overall beer volumes in 2021 remained more than 7% lower than 2019 numbers whilst beer production in the EA19, the 19 members of the Euro area, was 11% below that of 2019, contrasting with the fortunes of wines and spirits which actually saw an increase in production compared to 2019.
The Brewers of Europe brings together national brewers’ associations from 29 European countries and provides a voice to support the united interests of Europe’s 9,500 breweries.
In 2020, all alcoholic drink sectors had experienced significant production contractions compared with their aggregate 2019 levels: -15% for spirits, -6% for wine and -12% for beer, according to the report.
But in 2021 spirits and wine manufacturing recovered, ending the year 5% and 3% above their 2019 output levels respectively. Beer manufacturing, on the other hand, remained 11% below 2019 levels.
The update points out that off-trade consumption remained nearly 6% above 2019 levels and that overall beer consumption in 2021 – although eight million hectolitres above that of 2020 – was still nearly 8% down on 2019 levels.
As key sectors in providing food and drink to consumers, the restrictions on hospitality and tourism, where one third of all beers are typically served, have had knock-on impacts throughout the beer value chain.
“Shutdowns continued to suppress consumer activity across Europe during 2021,” states the report, “But this finding may also suggest that, without interventions, there may be a fundamental, longer-term change in consumer habits at play here (the increased risk perceptions garnered during the early stages of the pandemic could still be influencing consumers’ willingness to consume in on-trade establishments).
“Whilst overall beer volumes may return, the impact of beer on the wider economy might be subject to uncertainty if the change in the split between on- and off-trade is maintained in the future,” warns the report.