Shifting Currents in Global Beer

“In the coming years, we expect the growth in demand for beer from emerging markets to continue, and improvements to be made in the production of malting barley and malt in Asia and Latin America,” says Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Analyst Francois Sonneville.

photo of various beers

Developments in the global beer industry

Rabobank’s new map of the global beer industry shows major trade flows in malting barley, malt and beer, as well as developments at the consumer end of the market. The map sheds light on a number of key developments in the beer industry over the past years.

  • Beer consumption is rising in key markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
  • Trading up in traditional beer markets is fuelling demand for import and craft beer.
  • Demand for malt in Latin America is rising, but increased production within Mercosur countries is dampening exports from western Europe to the region.
  • Malting barley imports by China are on the rise, sourced mainly from Australia, but also from Europe and Canada.

Beer consumption growth

Between 2008 and 2013, global beer consumption increased by almost 10 percent, from 181 billion litres to 198 billion litres. “This growth was driven by both an increase in the number of people who drink beer, as well as a rise in the volume of beer consumption per person. Volume growth has been very unevenly distributed among continents and countries,” says Sonneville.

Asia saw the highest increase in consumption. Growth in Latin America and Africa offset declines in North America, western Europe and eastern Europe. On an individual country level, China has been the fastest-growing beer market by far.

When looking at growth in value terms (in constant currencies), Latin America, eastern Europe and North America have been very strong performers. “In these regions, consumers have traded up, buying more expensive beer, which is evident in the rising popularity of craft beer in North America,” says Sonneville. “Asia has also experienced value growth, albeit only to a very limited extent, as large parts of the population still have low disposable income.

Malt and malting barley flows

At the moment, most malt originates from the main barley growing areas such as the EU, Australia and Canada. As emerging markets demand both more and better quality ingredients however, they are becoming self-sufficient. China already produces most of its own malt requirements and Latin America sources both malt and malting barley domestically. This trend is expected to continue across emerging markets in the coming years.

visualisation of global beer trade flows

See the changes in trade flows and consumption in Rabobank’s World Beer Map with more details and an explanations in the accompanying note.

Print quality versions of the World Beer Map are exclusively available to Rabobank business clients. To receive one, please contact your relationship manager.

Click here to read the note "Shifting Currents in Global Beer".

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