– Premium beers are taking the European market by storm as consumers continue to dig deep into their pockets for a drink which offers them a little more than the standard brew. But this is not the only segment showing growth.
Total beer consumption in Europe rose by less than 3 per cent last year, but both the premium and super-premium segments grew more than 10 per cent, despite an overall downturn in consumer spending.
But the success of premium brands is not necessarily the only driver of growth in Europe, the report claims.
The fastest growth of recent years has been seen in Russia, where premium and super-premium products now account for 55 per cent of sales. But more than 87 per cent of Russians continue to spend their beer money on discount and mainstream brands.
Canadean?s report shows that across Europe as a whole, more than half of beer volumes are now accounted for by mainstream brands, while one third is taken up by premium and super-premium products and one sixth by discount beers.
The market in eastern Europe continues to grow, while sales in the west are shrinking. Only one of the top ten players ? Spain – is in western Europe, while the worst performers – Denmark and France – lost 2.3 per cent of volume over the period 1998-2002.
While the market for imported beer remains buoyant across the continent ? growing by 10 per cent last year – much of the trade was intra-regional and accounted for by only a handful of markets. For example, the largest importer – the UK – took most volume from Ireland and Germany. Exports, which also grew, were more global with the main suppliers – the Netherlands and Germany – sending large volumes to the US. The lowest import and export levels are found in east Europe where only the Czech Republic and Ukraine export more than 1 million hl.
Europe’s beer market remains fragmented, with only the top two players, Heineken and Interbrew, having more than 10 per cent each of total sales. With the consolidation of its volumes in Russia and its purchase of Austrian brewer BBAG this year, Heineken’s pole position is assured, while Interbrew is continuing with its policy of acquiring local breweries and brands. These leading positions are being challenged by Carlsberg, Scottish & Newcastle and SABMiller, all of which have been pursuing fairly aggressive expansion policies in recent years.