Economic impact of beer in the European Union | 11th International Label Conference 2016

Beer bottles on the conveyor belt

In 2013, Regioplan Policy Research and EY joined forces for the fifth time to carry out a study focusing on the economic impact of the production and sale of beer in Europe. The study covers the brewing sector in 31 European countries. Consolidated data in this report however relate to the 28 Member States of the European Union (EU).

Femaile Brewmaster2 copy

Key Developments


  • The brewing sector is of major importance to the EU In 2012, it was responsible for 2 million jobs. Most of the employment was generated in the hospitality sector (1.4 million jobs). However, there were also significant numbers employed by breweries (125,400 jobs), the retail sector (118,900 jobs) and the supply sectors (315,800 jobs), of which the bulk was attributable to agriculture.
  • The production and sale of beer generated 53 billion Euro in revenue for EU This is more than the total value added created in the supply chain for beer (51.5 billion Euro).
  • The number of breweries in the EU is still growing, now reaching around 4500, and includes global leaders, regional players and 1,000’s of small and medium sized companies and and microbreweries.
  • There were signs that, following a period of decline, production and consumption volumes had levelled out and were likely to begin to However, as consumer prices were still under pressure, the value of the beer market lagged behind infation.
  • Over the last two years, government revenues generated by the production and sale of beer increased by 4 percent. In some Member States, increased excise duty and VAT rates were accompanied by a decline in employment.
  • The EU brewing sector had a trade surplus amounting to 3 billion Euro in 2012
  • There was a further shift from consuming beer in bars, pubs and restaurants to drinking at This had a negative effect on the economic impact of the sector since beer sold in the off-trade sector generates less employment and VAT revenue per litre than beer sold in the on-trade sector.


A sector with impact

The EU is home to around 4500 breweries and enjoys a rich mix of beer cultures and a tradition that dates back thousands of years. The EU is also home to the headquarters of the world’s largest brewing companies, which rank among the top consumer goods companies globally. In 2012, 390 million hectolitres of beer were produced in the EU, making the region the second largest beer producer in the world. The consumption of beer amounted to 357 million hectolitres, yielding a turnover of 111 billion Euro in hospitality and retail outlets.

Overall, this means that the brewing sector is of major importance to the EU economy. It had a considerable effect on employment (2 million jobs), value-added (51.5 billion Euro) and government revenues (53 billion Euro).

Key Figures of selected countries

Economic impact of beer in the European Union (2008-2012)

Approximately 125,400 workers were employed directly within the breweries in 2012. However, the brewing sector was also very important for the hospitality sector (1.4 million jobs), the retail sector (118,900 jobs) and the supply sectors (315,800 jobs). The supply sectors for the brewing sector include, inter alia, the EU can industry, where nearly half of the production was destined for the brewing sector, and the agricultural sector where 131,500 jobs were generated through purchases by brewing companies. 


Source: Brewers Of Europe | Full Report 2013