Czech beer consumption rises again

Both consumption and production are up after a brief slump

Czech beer production and consumption is rising again. Czech breweries produced a record 21.3 million hectoliters of beer last year, an increase of 4.7 percent over the previous year. Beer output had dropped in 2017.

The increase was mainly due to beer for export, where production rose 11.8 percent year-on-year, according to the Czech Brewery and Malt Association (ČSPS).

The popularity 11 and 12 degree lagers continued to grow and now represents the majority of domestic beer exhibition. But Czechs are also increasingly buying bottles or cans, rather than going to a pub.

No-smoking laws in part have been blamed for the drop in people going to pubs, Weather also played a role, with high temperatures keeping people out of beer gardens until later in the evening. The changing lifestyles of the younger generation, which favors home entertainment, also has been a factor.

“In total, we exported 5.2 million hectoliters of beer abroad, which is the first time ever past the 5 million mark,” ČSPS executive director Martina Ferencová said.

Czech beer is mainly exported to other European Union countries. The main markets are Germany and Slovakia. Czech beer is becoming increasingly popular in Hungary, where beer exports were 60 percent more compared to the previous year.

Exports outside the EU also grew, representing a quarter of total exports last year. Russia is the largest non-EU export market, and it received 375,000 hectoliters, or 54 percent more than in 2017.

Domestic consumption grew by almost 3 percentage points last year, meaning every Czech drank 141 liters of beer on average. This was some 3 liters more than a year earlier. Sales of packaged beer rose 2 percent to reach 64 percent of the market.

Bottled beer had a 40 percent share, thus increasing by a percentage, barrel beer had a share of 34 percent, for which the share decreased by 2 percent. Beer consumption in cans increased by more than a quarter last year, reaching 11 percent. Consumption of beer in plastic bottles was at 12 percent, a drop of 4 percent. Sales of tank beer dropped by 1 percent to 3 percent of the market.

“The continued shift in consumption from pubs to households is a bad news. It does not benefit our beer culture or the Czech economy,” ČSPS chairman František Šámal said.

In addition to six large brewing companies, there are 29 separate breweries and 440 microbreweries in the Czech Republic.

Beer is also imported into the Czech Republic. Imports, mainly from EU countries, have been growing over the past five years. Some 291,000 hectoliters of beer were imported into the Czech Republic in 2014, and that rose to was 395,000 hectoliters last year.

Imports came mostly from Poland, Hungary and Belgium.

Some 8,000 hectoliters came from outside the EU, mainly Mexico, Serbia and Thailand.

Czechs have long held the title of the largest beer drinkers in the world. A survey by Japanese brewer Kirin has has the Czech Republic on top ever since it became an independent country. In the most recent survey, Namibia came in second, followed by Austria, Germany and Poland.

In terms of all alcohol, including wine and spirits, a separate survey showed Czechs to be the second-heaviest drinkers, tied with France, in both the European Union and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This was based on OECD health statistics. Lithuania was first in both cases.

Czechs drank 11.7 liters of alcohol, compared to Lithuania's 13.2 liters. The analysis counted the amount of pure alcohol in spirits, wine, beer and other beverages with higher than 0.5 percent content consumed by people 15 years old and higher, using figures from 2016.

The level of alcohol consumption has been fairly steady since 2000, wavering between 11.4 and 12.1 liters.

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