Belgium is the second-largest beer exporter in Europe

Belgium is the second-largest beer exporter in Europe
Different bottles of Belgian beers. Credit: Belga / Benoit Doppagne

Belgium remained Europe's second-largest beer exporter after the Netherlands in 2022, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, the European statistics service.

On International Beer Day, Eurostat published its beer export statistics – and while Belgium is known far and wide as the country of beer, it is neither the biggest producer nor the largest exporter in Europe.

Combining exports within and outside the EU, Belgium exported 1.6 billion litres of beer last year, accounting for 17% of total European exports of the beverage in 2022. Twice as many beers produced in Belgium are exported compared to those consumed within the country.

The new figures matched the statistics shared by Belgian Brewers in June, which highlighted that exports have fallen for the fourth year running. In Belgium, beer exports are down by 5.5% in 2022 to nearly 16.4 million hectolitres (1.6 billion litres). The brewers' association explained that, while business is up with EU countries, last year's long-haul exports to mass importers fell more than 30%.

The overall decline can be explained by a commitment to setting up production in key export countries. For example, beer giant AB InBev has been brewing Stella Artois in the US since 2021, Belgian Brewers said.

The top position of beer exporters within the EU went to the Netherlands, largely due to Heineken's global success. The Dutch staple is also the second-largest brewer in the world, with a total export of 2.6 billion litres, which accounts for 27% of the global share.

After Belgium, Germany is in third position with 1.5 billion litres, accounting for a share of 16%, followed by Czechia (0.6 billion litres; 6%) and Ireland (0.4 billion litres; 5%).

Germany biggest producer

Germany remains the largest beer producer in the EU, with a total of 7.6 billion litres being brewed there, more than a fifth of the total European production. "This means that about one in every four beers containing alcohol produced in the EU originated in Germany," Eurostat noted.

Germany was followed by Spain, with 3.9 billion litres produced, Poland with 3.7 billion litres and the Netherlands with 2.6 billion litres. Data for Belgian production was not available, which explains why the country is not included in the list.

Overall, EU countries produced almost 34.3 billion litres of beer containing alcohol, equivalent to almost 80 litres per inhabitant and up by 7% compared to 2021. This figure is returning to levels closer to the pre-pandemic year of 2019 when production was at 34.7 billion litres. The amount of beer which contained less than 0.5% alcohol or had no alcohol content at all remained stable at 1.6 billion litres.

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Within the EU, France continued to be the largest importer of beer containing alcohol, representing 17% of the EU total. When it comes to main destinations for beer exports to non-EU countries, the largest amount was shipped to the United Kingdom (860 million litres, accounting for 21% of total extra-EU beer exports) and the United States (716 million litres; 18%).

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