Europe: Confined consumers drink more beer

Retail sales of beer did not suffer from the coronavirus lockdown as anticipated. Nielsen’s latest data for the four weeks ending April 19 gathered in various European countries by international data research firm Nielsen suggest a strong growth of beer sales in terms of volume and value.

Fueled by pre-confinement supply, growth was strong across Europe and strongest in the UK and Spain, Olivier Nicolaï Head of European Consumer Staples Research at Goldman Sachs wrote in a report on Friday. Only Germany remained the exception.

Growth was not restricted to cheaper beers but consumers also bought higher-priced premium brands. Heineken for instance reported a 51.4% volume increase in the UK, where the Heineken and Birra Moretti brands were the main growth drivers. AB InBev, meanwhile, outperformed in France, with strong growth in its Leffe and Corona beers.

However, as Nielsen is only tracking data in retail, the findings show only half of the truth. Measures to contain the coronavirus included a complete shutdown of bars, pubs and restaurants across Europe which led to a collapse of draught beer sales which are usually not monitored by Nielsen.

As people stayed at home during the pandemic, it seems only natural that home consumption had to rise. When governments across the continent begin easing containment measures now and more and more bars and restaurants open up again, it remains to be seen if the overall balance for brewers will be positive.

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