Beer in Western Europe

March 2022

This regional briefing discusses value and volume market sizes, growth since 2016, channel distribution and company shares in the region. It analyses the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the performance of craft producers, sustainability concerns amongst consumers, premiumisation and the health & wellness trend. It also examines the post-pandemic recovery, popular future products and emerging trends.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 had an enormous impact on beer value and volume sales in 2020. Restrictions associated with the pandemic meant that bars and restaurants were closed for significant proportions of the year. When hospitality venues were open, there were restrictions on factors such as table sizes, or earlier closing times.

Health and wellness trend

The health and wellness trend was strengthened by the pandemic as people sought to avoid the consequences of contracting COVID-19. This impacted consumption habits, with non/low alcohol products seeing heightened demand, and some countries, such as Spain, seeing more moderate alcohol consumption.


Premiumisation in beer continued in 2020. Brands with a compelling brand story and an element of “authenticity” have become more relevant for consumers. Also, a luxury, attractive design to product packaging has become more important, as consumers seek to look stylish whilst drinking.

Tourism drop-off

One of the industries most impacted by COVID-19 was tourism. Many countries within Western Europe that are reliant on tourism for income faced a significant drop-off in visitors to their countries in 2020. Given the amount this group spends in hospitality venues, this had a negative effect on beer sales.

Craft producers

Craft breweries faced tough time during 2020, due to the restrictions placed on hospitality venues, as craft producers rely on on-trade sales to a greater degree than the larger beer producers. Many small breweries did not survive the prolonged period of reduced sales, as events such as festivals were cancelled.

Online channel relevance

The online channel grew during the pandemic, as consumers often had no choice but to turn to e-commerce; however, the share of sales online remained low.

Key findings
Western Europe in context
Growth 2015-2025: Sharp decline in 2020 after years of low growth
Beer growth by country: Cross-category reductions in 2020
Non/low alcohol beer grows over 2015-2020, while lager declines
Absolute growth changes in beer categories in Western Europe 2015-2020
Key trends impacting the industry and how they shape regional demand
Beer channel distribution in Western Europe: Supermarkets lead
Channel distribution in Western Europe
Market fragmentation: Most markets dominated by top 1-5 companies
Bigger brands better able to adapt to pandemic challenges
Top 10 companies by country breakdown: Germany is a key market
Top 10 brand rankings 2015-2020: A consolidated market
Market size and growth forecast: Recovery expected
Forecast tool: Calculated and soft drivers
Analysis: Post-pandemic recovery
Austria: Market context
Austria: Competitive and retail landscape
Belgium: Market context
Belgium: Competitive and retail landscape
Denmark: Market context
Denmark: Competitive and retail landscape
Finland: Market context
Finland: Competitive and retail landscape
France: Market context
France: Competitive and retail landscape
Germany: Market context
Germany: Competitive and retail landscape
Greece: Market context
Greece: Competitive and retail landscape
Ireland: Market context
Ireland: Competitive and retail landscape
Italy: Market context
Italy: Competitive and retail landscape
Netherlands: Market context
Netherlands: Competitive and retail landscape
Norway: Market context
Norway: Competitive and retail landscape
Portugal: Market context
Portugal: Competitive and retail landscape
Spain: Market context
Spain: Competitive and retail landscape
Sweden: Market context
Sweden: Competitive and retail landscape
Switzerland: Market context
Switzerland: Competitive and retail landscape
Turkey: Market context
Turkey: Competitive and retail landscape
UK: Market context
UK: Competitive and retail landscape

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks is the aggregation of beer, wine, spirits, cider/perry and RTDs.

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