Prague, Czech Republic – Beer production and consumption reached a new record-high in the Czech Republic last year, according to the latest figures released by the Czech Association of Breweries and Malt (ČSPS).
Czech beer production and consumption continues to increase in 2019
Long known for being the biggest beer drinkers on the planet and famous all around the world for the quality of their local production, Czechs consumed a total of 142 liters of beer per capita in 2019 (or 284 pints per year), one more liter per person compared to 2018.
Data however shows that tap beer sold in bars or restaurants has been slowly declining, with the biggest share going to beer bottles sold in supermarkets and other retail stores, a less profitable segment for breweries. Lager beers (11° or 12°) accounted for more than half of consumption, while weaker ones (between 7° and 10°) are on a downward trend, according to the study.
Production also rose by 1.6% in 2019, with Czech breweries producing a total of 21.6 million hectoliters last year.
The hike in beer production was mostly due to an important increase in exports, which rose by 4.5% in 2019 to reach 5.4 million hectoliters (exports of non-alcoholic beers, for their part, increased by a staggering 22%).
“Exports to most of our traditional export markets continued to grow last year”, commented Martina Ferencova from the Czech Association of Breweries and Malt, mainly referring to Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Russia and the United States. Czech beer exports declined in several top markets as well, including the United Kingdom, Austria and South Korea.
Imports – including from Poland, the third biggest producer of beer in Europe – also grew last year but remain small compared to the overall volume.
Czech breweries bracing for negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic
By all accounts, beer production and consumption are expected to see a sharp drop in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and weeks of lockdown imposed to slow down the spread of the virus.
“We do not look to the future with too much optimism”, Frantisek Samal from the Czech Breweries Association warned. “Restaurants closed for more than two months, with additional weeks and months of gradual return to normal, zero tourism – all this will negatively affect results for this year”.
Due to a combined drop in local consumption and foreign demand, Czech beer production is expected to decrease between 1.5 and 2 million hectoliters during the first five months of 2020 alone. Recent weeks have seen numerous breweries forced to throw out liters upon liters of beers which they had been unable to sell, with micro-breweries, particularly dependent on direct sales to bars and restaurants, the most at risk.
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