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06 May 2021

Beer hospitality to drive Europe’s recovery

Belgium | The figures make grim reading. Europe’s brewers lost more than 40 percent in on-premise beer sales in 2020, due to covid restrictions and bar closures. Last year, beer sold in the hospitality sector dropped to 75 million hl from 126 million hl in 2019.

In its new report on the impact of covid-19, the Brewers of Europe, an industry body, says that there was a net fall of 34 million hl, or 9 percent, in the total volume of beer sold in Europe in 2020, as off-premise beer sales only picked up a small part of the slack.

Per its estimates, covid-19 measures taken by governments in 2020 have disproportionately impacted bars and restaurants. The drop in consumption provoked 860,000 job losses, a 25 percent decline in beer’s overall value-add to the European economy, and a 23 percent decline in government tax revenues from beer.

An estimated EUR 7 billion (USD 8.5 billion) went up in smoke through lost VAT receipts usually collected in beer hospitality. A further EUR 4 billion in government revenues were lost because of the income and social security contributions usually paid by the hundreds of thousands who lost their jobs.

Reopening bars more than a symbol of recovery

“Getting punters back to bars, pubs, cafés and festivals with friends, family and the local community will be a symbol of recovery from the pandemic, and will also help to reignite the whole European economy, while rebuilding society,” The Brewers of Europe said in its statement.

“With continued targeted support, governments can also expect to receive around EUR 11 billion in extra tax revenues, if beer hospitality can just return to pre-pandemic levels of activity. The beer value chain bouncing back to pre-covid levels would also bring EUR 13 billion in value-add back into the European economy,” it pointed out.

The report was released on 26 April 2021, two days before the Netherlands reopened outdoor venues. On the other hand, with much of Europe still under tight restrictions, a kickstart of the on-premise is out of reach. The long wait is having a devastating effect on social lives, livelihoods, culture, the economy and government finances.

Therefore, Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe cautioned: “As we look ahead to the recovery, we need to get the reopening right. We need clarity and certainty.”