Total volume sales of beer experienced decline in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. While horeca outlets were allowed to remain open in Sweden, they had to implement strict social distancing measures to prevent crowded areas in the premises and to keep to table service only in the case of dining.
A high number of breweries in Sweden are independently owned and many rely on the on-trade channel, with some local beer producers claiming that up to 70% of their sales are via bars, festivals, and public events. When concerts and public events were stopped as a result of the pandemic and bars were forced to observe social distancing measures, small breweries reviewed their strategies and product portfolios in an attempt to survive the hostile environment.
The competitive landscape of beer in Sweden is fairly consolidated amongst the leading players, with Swedish family-owned Spendrups Bryggeri AB retaining its leadership in 2020 and gaining further total volume share from its closest rival Carlsberg Sverige AB. Spendrups Bryggeri continued to increase its sales through Systembolaget while recording a marginal decline in total volume sales due to its strength in the on-trade channel, with the latter experiencing significant drops in demand during the pandemic.
While further restrictions introduced in 2021 to curb rising cases of the virus may continue to subdue a stronger recovery in the first half of the year for on-trade sales, the channel is still predicted to bounce back over the first part of the forecast period due to pent-up demand, despite some lingering price sensitivity. Therefore, on-trade sales of beer are predicted to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.
As local consumers gradually regain their confidence and lingering price sensitivity wanes, they are likely to return to pre-pandemic trends in terms of being willing to try new and interesting craft beers in an effort to support local producers, although imported beer which offers new or unusual flavours is also likely to attract consumers. E-commerce, which gained further off-trade volume share in 2020, is likely to support the search for differentiation.
While experiencing declines in 2020, non alcoholic beer is expected to recover and record notable growth rates over the forecast period in both off-trade and on-trade channels, as consumers return to healthier lifestyles, a trend which will be particularly driven by the younger adult demographic. Non alcoholic beer will benefit from being deemed an alternative to soft drinks while healthier than regular beer given the absence of alcohol.
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This report originates from Passport, our Beer research and analysis database.
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