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21 October 2021

Ten Austrian breweries launch independence seal

Austria | Do consumers know the meaning of “private brewery”? Apparently not. Therefore, ten Austrian brewers have formed an alliance, calling themselves “independent private breweries” and launching a seal which will say “100 percent independent” on labels.

Their motive is easy to explain. Medium-sized and smaller breweries want to differentiate themselves from the market leader Brau Union, a unit of Heineken.

Their website www.privatbrauereien.at says: “Already six out of ten beers that are drunk in Austria come from large international corporations. So, it is time to set an example. By buying beers that carry the seal, you strengthen Austrian private breweries that remain independent, and do not allow themselves to be taken over by large international corporations. Since independent private breweries pay 100 percent of their taxes in Austria, you thus support our health system, our schools and our infrastructure.”

More than a matter of words

There are slightly more than 300 breweries in Austria. Because of the pandemic, beer output in 2020 dropped 4.2 percent to 9.5 million hl. Exports declined 5.7 percent. Domestic sales were 8.3 million hl, down 4 percent. Still, Austrians managed to consume 97 litres beer per capita in 2020.

Per capita consumption of beer in Austria between 1960-2020 in litres (Data: Association of Austrian Brewers)

The ten breweries, which have launched the seal, have a combined beer output of around 2.2 million hl. Brau Union, which was completely taken over by Heineken in 2003, produces around 5 million hl beer annually. Its well-known brands include Gösser, Puntigamer, Zipfer and Schwechater.

The association “Independent Private Breweries in Austria” wants to grow further and unite as many independent private breweries as possible under one roof, while sticking to strict admission criteria. So far, two medium-sized breweries belong to it - the Stiegl brewery, Salzburg and the Ottakringer brewery, Vienna – plus a host of smaller breweries.