Spain: The recovery of beer consumption in HORECA is close to pre-pandemic levels

Beer consumption in HORECA (Hospitalite) experienced a notable improvement in 2022, with an increase of almost 32% compared to the previous year, which was driven, among other factors, by the rebound in tourism in our country. However, pre-pandemic levels were not reached: in 2019 around 70% of beer was consumed outside home, but in 2022 this rate remained below 60%. Health restrictions at the beginning of the year at Horeca, banned comsumption at bars or standing so the Horeca was still far from establishing normality in its activity. This is stated in the Socioeconomic Report of the Beer Sector in Spain in 2022, published jointly by Brewers of Spain and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

“In Spain 90% of the beer consumed it is national produced and most of the raw materials are Spanish, so an economy impact is generated in rural areas,” explains Fernando Miranda Sotillos, General Secretary of Agriculture and Food. “The brewing sector stands out for having opted, and continues to do so, for national agriculture and promoting R&D in barley and hops to make beer. Therefore, it is one of the most valuable sectors of the Spanish agri-food sector,” he adds.

Beer production also evolved favorably, reaching 41.1 million hectoliters in 2022, a figure that places Spain as the second largest beer producer in Europe – only behind Germany – and ninth worldwide. In this sense, the permanence of beer consumption at home, added to the factors already mentioned and the notable increase in exports last year, contributed to increasing beer production compared to 2021.

As it can be deduced from the results included in the report, beer exports continue to rise. With 4.2 million hectoliters, exports increased by 13.4% in 2022 and 36.8% in the last three years, favoring the positioning of the Spanish beer sector in the international market.

Sales to the HORECA channel still below 2019

The increase in tourism in 2022 had a favorable impact on the volume of beer sales in Spain due to its close connection to the hospitality industry. The number of registered visitors doubled compared to the previous year, allowing the beer sector to consolidate the recovery trend after the strong impact of the pandemic. In total, 38.95 million hectoliters were marketed.

In this sense, sales to horeca channel surpassed Retail channel in two percentage points (51% vs 49%). However, the difference between these two channels was greater in 2019, when the horeca channel accounted for 53.2% of sales and the retail channel accounted for 46.8%.

“The beer sector is advancing at a good pace on the path to recovering horeca sales. Despite having experienced uncertain times in 2022, the sector has proven resilient, which reflects that beer serves as an indicator of consumer confidence in the Spanish economy,” says the general director of Cerveceros de España, Jacobo Olalla Marañón.

The craft segment continues to be the most affected

Breweries that produce less than 50,000 hectoliters have been the most affected by economic uncertainty, with a 3% decrease in both production and the number of operating centers in 2022. Thus, compared to the pre-pandemic period, production was 20% lower and there were 35% fewer breweries.

For this segment, the reactivation of consumption in the hospitality industry is especially relevant, since it is the main marketing and consumption channel for craft beers.

“One of the pillars of our association is that the sector remains united and diverse, despite difficult times. Therefore, it is vital that we continue to move towards the total recovery of consumption in hospitality to continue supporting craft brewers, who are the ones who have suffered the most from the consequences of the pandemic and inflation,” emphasizes Jacobo Olalla Marañón.

The contribution of beer to the State improves due to consumption in HORECA

Beer is one of the drinks that has the greatest impact on the country’s economy, both in tax collection and in job creation. The sector generated tax revenues of 5,840 million euros (latest data available for 2021), 24% more than the previous year. In addition, the increase in VAT collection in hospitality (+31%), personal income tax (+27%) and other taxes compared to 2020, reflects the great positive impact of beer consumption in horeca.

On the other hand, the employment generated by the brewing sector in 2022 reached 450,000 jobs, which represents an increase of 12.5% ​​compared to 2021; of which almost 87% correspond to the horeca channel, according to data from Europe Economics.

Beer consumption remains moderate

The way beer is consumed in our country responds to Mediterranean patterns: more than 90% of the occasions on which beer was consumed in 2022 were associated with moments of food intake. Per capita consumption stood at 58 liters. In fact, about half of the people who enjoy it do so at least twice a week.

“94% of beer consumption outside home occurs in a social context, being the most consumed cold drink in hospitality. In fact, it can account for about 25 % to 40% of the turnover of pubs, especially in smaller ones,” comments José Luis Yzuel, president of Hospitality of Spain. “It is also the favorite option to accompany tapas, both by Spaniards and foreign tourists, a sign that its consumption responds to Mediterranean patterns,” he adds.

Stand out that, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, almost 13% of the beer consumed by Spaniards is non-alcoholic. The consumption of this variety as an alternative to the traditional variety reflects that in our country we do not seek low alcohol content, but rather the freshness and flavor of the drink. Low-alcoholic beer sales rose 11% compared to the previous year, thanks to the reactivation of the hospitality industry.

Sustainable production from national raw materials

All the hops grown in our country are consumed by the Spanish brewing sector. In 2022, about 1,000 tons of flowering hops were harvested, while barley malt production amounted to almost 550,000 tons, with a value of more than 300 million euros.

Under normal circumstances, more than 90% of the grains used to make beer come from the fields of our country. Thus, in line with the sector’s commitment to the Spanish countryside, the sector maintained its commitment to raw materials of national origin in 2022.

The sector has also reinforced its commitment to environmental sustainability. From cultivation to the final consumer, throughout the entire value chain, brewing companies ensure the majority use of renewable electrical energy in the processes, the valorization of almost all waste generated in production and the marketing of almost the half of beer in reusable containers.

The strategic areas in terms of sustainability are packaging, energy, water and carbon footprint reduction. In this sense, 79% of the volume of beer sold in the horeca industry in 2022 had reusable containers, so the sector is close to reaching the 80% mark for 2025. Likewise, 98.2% of the energy that was used in 2022 it was renewable in nature, bringing it closer to its goal of achieving totality.