The economic context continues to affect beer consumption in Spain, which declined by 0.2% year-on-year in 2011. The country once again ranks among the European countries with the most moderate consumption (48.2 liters per capita), in contrast with the beer-drinking nations of northern European.
"These figures are attributable to the fact that, in Spain, beer is associated with family and friendly get-togethers. It is generally accompanied by food and is consumed responsibly and in moderation by much of the population," said Isabel García Tejerina, Spain's General Secretary for Agriculture and Food.
As in previous years, the slide (-2.1%) in consumption was primarily in the hospitality segment, which has registered a cumulative decline of 18% in the last five years. The shift towards beer consumption at home, which increased by 3.2% in the last year, impacted the central government's collection of taxes from the hospitality industry (especially VAT) and job creation by the segment.
Key industry for the Spanish economy
Although consumption per capital is lower than the European average, Spain remains the fourth-largest beer producer in the European Union, with 33.6 million hectoliters (2011). The beer industry remains a very important source of wealth and job creation for the Spanish economy, contributing around 5.9 million euros in terms of added value, and accounting for 1.2% of GDP.
The beer tax raises close to 4.5 million euros for the Spanish government, of which more than 1.9 million euros is VAT (primarily from the hospitality sector) and 279 million euros is a special duty on beer (unlike other fermented beverages, which are taxed at zero).
According to Jacobo Olalla Marañón, General Director of The Brewers of Spain, "Given the importance of beer, especially in the hospitality segment, any measure that exacerbates the decline in consumption will directly impact net tax collection by the central government."
In Spain, the beer industry employs more than 221,000 direct and indirect employees, of which close to 185,400 are in the hospitality sector, one of the main drivers of economic growth in Spain, and more than 12% are in agriculture, which supplies brewers.
Growth in exports
Despite the economic situation, 2011 was a good year for exports, which expanded by 9.12%, reflecting the excellent reception of Spanish beer in other countries.
Imports slipped by 4.36%, supporting the fact that more than 90% of beer consumed in Spain is produced at domestic brewers.
In Spain, beer sales remained stable with respect to the previous year, at 32.8 million hectoliters, due to the 7.6% increase in foreign tourists. More than one-fourth of visitors came from the UK and Germany, where beer consumption per capita far exceeds the Spanish figure. By region, sales expanded most in the Canary Islands, by 4.6%, due to the increase in foreign tourism; however, Andalusia and Extremadura remain leaders in terms of sales volume.
Support for Spanish agriculture
The sector remains firmly committed to Spanish agricultural products with a view to producing beer with 100% Spanish hops and malt. Added García Tejerina: "The beer industry contributes to the development of new malt varieties and to the ongoing cultivation of hops, on which 14,000 people in 35 towns depend."