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Brewing Experienced an Overall Fall in the Czech Republic Last Year; Revival of Beer Exports Gives Hope

Prague 23 March 2011 – The breweries grouped in the Czech Beer and Malt Association (CBMA) produced 7.9% less beer in 2010 than in 2009, continuing the fall in production that began in 2009. The most significant impact was caused by reduced demand for standard beers, of which breweries produced 12.8% less. Lager production was 2.6% lower, but the growth of its share in total production by domestic breweries continued and it exceeded 35%. Demand for non-alcoholic beer on the domestic market and for export was again higher, by 2.4% year-on-year. Over the long term there has been an increase in the popularity of special beers, of which almost 40% more were brewed last year than in the previous year. This was mostly caused by domestic trends. The production of top-fermented and flavoured beers is also growing, but their role on the market is currently minimal. Despite the fall in production, the range of beer types and brands in growing. Their total number on the Czech market from all breweries has already exceeded a record 450 brands. This trend should continue in future years.

“We clearly put down trends in the production of beer in the Czech Republic to the economic crisis in past years, and particularly the impact of the increase in excise duty on beer, which led to an increase in prices and a subsequent fall in demand,” said Ing. Jan Veselý, executive director of the Czech Beer and Malt Association. “It is not all bad news on the Czech beer market. Some trends are positive, for example demand for lagers and the growth of consumer interest in non-alcoholic beer, which has become a sought-after alternative in cases where the consumer, a driver, cannot have a beer, as well as an increase in interest in special beers. Trends in demand abroad and other signals from the field of exports give us a feeling of cautious optimism. We hope that this year exports could, to a certain extent, drive production by Czech breweries,” added Jan Veselý.

Beer exports from the Czech Republic experienced a year-on-year fall by 4.2%; in comparison with the 10.5% fall in 2009 it is slight success. The more favourable trend was caused by the fact that of the ten largest importers of Czech beer only Germany and Great Britain reduced volumes.  The countries to which Czech beer is traditionally exported in large volumes include Slovakia, Sweden, Russia and the USA. The most dynamic year-on-year increases were in exports to Poland and Canada. Long-term changes in the structure of exported beers are continuing, and the position of lagers is strengthening at the expense of standard beers.
The domestic beer market and exports are undergoing more marked changes from the packaging viewpoint. Whereas total production of beer in bottles, barrels, tanks and tins is falling on the domestic market, it is rising for export. Beer distribution in PET bottles is rising dramatically both for Czech consumers and in other countries.
As far as concerns development trends in Czech brewing, the influences of the economic and financial crisis are still being felt, but the negative impact on consumers will gradually weaken. It can be expected that, together with economic growth, beer consumption will slowly increase, including as a consequence of the growing number of foreign visitors to the Czech Republic, and I also expect a revival in demand for beer from abroad. A more permanent phenomenon will be the rising share of consumption of lagers and, primarily, 11º original gravity beers, even though standard beers will continue to have the largest share. However, the popularly of special beers will continue to rise. However, their share on the market will remain small for the moment.
The consumption of non-alcoholic beers, which are a more and more common alternative for those who cannot consume beer (primarily drivers, cyclists, etc.), will continue to grow, but at a slower tempo. The purchase of beer in glass and PET bottles will strengthen, but we can expect a further increase in the number of restaurants equipped with tanks, which a large number of beer drinkers like and look for. This is related to the fact that breweries will continue to build networks of their own pubs, which have become flagships in care for beer. The number of microbreweries will increase; they have become not only a permanent part of the beer market, but are also a respected regional tourism phenomenon. There is a long-term trend towards expanding the range, i.e. beer types and brands, from both small and large breweries.   
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