The Dutch beer consumption grew by almost 2% in 2015, according to Dutch Brewers in a press release of 30 March 2016. “Conscious beers cause of growth” read the headline – and by Conscious they meant non-alcoholic beer. Also ‘Beermix’ (an intriguing euphemism for Radler) and Special (anything but Conscious, Beermix and Lager) continue to grow. But what does this all mean exactly? Creative juggling with telling figures, or, how a cow catches a hare.
Dutch Brewers represents the interests of 10 major Dutch brewers: Heineken, Grolsch, AB Inbev, Bavaria, Alfa, De Leckere, Gulpener, Budels, Lindeboom and Texel. In recent years they feel the New Prohibitionists’ hot breath on the nape and partly for this reason – but also because they really mean it – they propagate to enjoy in moderation, to moderate alcohol consumption. Five of its ten members make Conscious beers; six brew Beermix. Of the remaining more than 250 active Dutch brewers not one brews a Conscious beer (to my knowledge), some produce Beermix. (Some of them, usually unintentionally, produce Unconscious Beermixes – but that is not the issue now.)
The hare Dutch Brewers want to catch is the message that Conscious beers, or alcohol-free, is the major driver of growth for the Dutch beer sector. In percentage terms it is: an increase of 26.8% compared to 13% for Beermix, 8.2% for Special and 0.2% for lager. In absolute numbers, however, Conscious remains the smallest: 33 million liters compared to 37 million liters for Beermix, 97 million liters Special and a staggering 985 million liters of lager. This is roughly what Dutch beer consumption looks like. Regarding growth Conscious and Special grew 7 million liters each, Beermix grew 4 million liters and lager gainded 2 million. In all these figures imported beers are included. Now of course you ask: where does Dutch Brewers juggle the figures, does the cow do something wrong?
Well, at first glance, the statement is not incorrect: Conscious beers absolutely grow almost as fast as Special beers, but because of their smaller base, the growth percentage is over three times as large. The juggling lies in small letters stating: ‘Figures based on monitoring among members and non-members of Dutch Brewers that covers about 94% of the market.” In other words, if in accordance with Dutch Brewers total beer consumption is 1.15 billion liters, you may add almost 75 million liters from the remaining Dutch breweries. This seems to me too much – in an earlier blog I estimated that to be around 25 million liters. But one thing we know for sure: there is not a drop Conscious or Beermix in it, let alone Lager. And so therefore between 120 and 170 million liters of Special beer drunk in The Netherlands can be added. With their smaller base, the comparison may be unfair, but almost all Dutch small and craft brewers have shown growth rates of more than 30% in 2015. All in all it is thus Special that leads the pack, by miles.
Special now makes up around 9% of total beer consumption in The Netherlands, Lager is still dominant with 85%. Coincidentally this is also almost the ratio domestic – imported beer: 85.7% against 14.3%. We drink 65% of our beer at home and 35% in the HORECA – but precisely because we drink conscious way. Both Beermix and Conscious grow faster in HORECA harder than in total, which is extra good news because it means almost for sure that less and less people with too much alcohol get into their car as driver – and I think every single drop is too much if you’re going to drive. Just don’t, drink Conscious(ly)!
So I have to actually agree with the cow: great so many more people drink Conscious, especially in HORECA! Very smart, and all the more reason to enjoy Special at home!