For the first time in history, the Belgian Brewers’ Federation has a woman director. Nathalie Poissonnier will take up her function on Monday, leading the federation together with chairman Jean-Louis Van De Perre.
The federation represents the majority of Belgium’s brewers, although thee also exists a Belgian Family Brewers’ Association. Many breweries are members of both.
Poissonier’s function has been empty since the departure of previous director Sven Gatz, a former Brussels politician who left to become a minister in the Flemish government.
Poissonnier has a marketing background, most recently with the chemicals industry, the biotechnology industry, the Direct Marketing Association (where she helped introduce the no-call list to discourage unwanted cold-callers) and Sigma for public works.
Until now, she has had no experience with the brewing industry. “Her experience with various federations is important,” Van De Perre said in a statement. “A federation is not a company; we are constantly in touch with a variety of stakeholders. That she has no experience in the beer world can even be seen as a plus point. She starts with a clean slate, and no links to any particular brewer. Apart from anything else, she has shown herself in the past to be a quick learner.”
As historians will attest, brewing beer was one of a woman’s household duties for centuries; it was only when the craft became industrialised in the 19th century that the major corporations emerged, and that men took over the business.
The federation currently has 66 members, mainly representing larger breweries. However it aims to change its statutes to be able to embrace the growing number of smaller craft breweries springing up all over the country, representing the future of the Unesco-recognised Belgian beer culture.