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Belgian beer exports face difficulties

14:08 13/06/2024

The Belgian brewing sector is facing a sharp fall in domestic consumption and sluggish exports, with 2023 being one of the most difficult years for the sector to date, according to the Belgian Brewers Federation’s annual report.

A number of factors explain the downturn in Belgium and abroad, including rising costs due to inflation, a shortage of staff and increased personnel costs.

The brewers have also noted that Belgians are increasingly careful with their spending.

Beer consumption in Belgium fell to 6.53 million hectolitres. In recent decades, only the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 were worse.

Compared with 2022, consumption has fallen by around 6% in both the on-trade and the off-trade.

Exports still account for more than double national consumption, with 15 million hectolitres of beer shipped worldwide. But even those volumes fell by 7.5%.

Demand for Belgian beverages fell by more than 22%, particularly in countries outside the European Union. The three biggest buyers – the United Kingdom, the United States and China – all imported less last year.

In Europe, declines in France and Germany were not offset by increases in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Written by Helen Lyons