World beer production falls by nearly 38 million hl in 2018

World beer production in 2018 fell by 37.8 million hl, or 1.9% to 1,905 million hl compared to the year before according to figures released in the latest Barth report last week. This “decline of unprecedented magnitude” was mainly due to a fall in output totaling 59 million hl in China.

Growth was reported by 85 of the 171 beer-brewing countries and only 34 reported a decline.

In Europe both the countries in the European Union and those in the rest of the continent saw output rise. The most significant growth here was seen in Russia (+3.1m hl), Romania (+1.5m hl) and the UK (+1.1m hl). The growth markets in America were Mexico (+9.7m hl) and Brazil (+1.4m hl). However, total output volume was brought down by the USA (-3.7m hl) and Venezuela (-2.9m hl).

In Asia growth was reported in the Philippines (+2.2m hl), India (+1.1m hl) and Japan (+1m hl). On the other hand, not only China (-59m hl) but also Thailand (-1.5m hl) and Iran (-1.3m hl) registered falling output. The growth engine in Africa was Ethiopia (+2.6m hl), as it has been for the last few years.

The ranking of beer producing nations is led once again by China (381.2 m hl), the USA (214.6 m hl), Brazil (141.1 m hl), Mexico (119.8 m hl) and Germany (93.7 m hl). These five countries account for half of world beer output volume.

Largest brewer in the world was once again AB InBev with 567 million hl in 2018 which represented a share of world beer production of 29.8 percent.  Next followed Heineken with 233.8 million hl (12.3%), China Ressource Snow Breweries with 121.0  million hl (6.4%), Carlsberg with 112.3 million hl (5.9%) and Molson Coors with 96.6 million hl (5.1%).

Only some of the major brewers were able to report growth in beer output in 2018. Among those who could were Heineken and Grupo Petrópolis, with growth of just under 16m hl and 5m hl respectively. Efes reported growth of around 11m hl, possibly due to their acquisition of the AB InBev breweries in Russia and Ukraine (, 30.3.2018). With world beer output declining by 1.9% in 2018, the top 40 brewing groups only slightly increased market share year on year to 89.8%.

Transaction activities were seen predominantly in the craft brewery segment. Here, for example, Heineken bought into Beavertown, London, (, 26.5.2018) and Lion Brewery, Australia, which belongs to Kirin, took control of Fourpure (, 9.7.2018) and Magic Rock (, 1.4.2019), both also based in the UK. Grupo Mahou-San Miguel acquired a majority stake in America’s Avery Brewing based in Colorado (, 28.11.2017) and Asahi took over Fullers, the old-established British brewer (, 5.2.2019). Heineken entered into a strategic participation in China, acquiring 40% of the shares in China’s largest brewing group China Resources Snow Breweries (, 3.8.2018).

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