Manel González. Journalist
Brewers of Spain held its annual general meeting in Barcelona on April 24th, during which the sector's good results achieved in 2016 were apparent, helped by the good weather and record number of tourists in Spain. The association that represents Spain's beer brewing industry also saw growth, with the number of associated brewers quadrupling. We spoke to its general director, Jacobo Olalla:
Question - What was the most noteworthy aspect of the general meeting?
Answer - One aspect about which I'm most proud is sector representation this year, which is diverse and united. Moreover, as the new brewers that have joined the association attended the meeting for the first time, we were able to get a more accurate look at such an important industry for Spain. It's a mixed sector comprised of brewers who've been in the business for more than a century, as well as newcomers who have added energy and innovation to the business. In short—it's a sector that combines tradition with modernity.
Q - Beer is the most popular cold beverage served by the hospitality sector. Why is that?
A - Since beer is a social drink, which is enjoyed with friends and family, in moderation and with something to eat, the greatest consumption occurs through the hospitality segment. The way we consume beer is a reflection of our way of life and what we like to do in our free time—it's our Mediterranean legacy. That's why Spaniards like to drink beer with others, with something to snack on, and out at a bar or restaurant.
Q - Then, according to your experience, is beer consumption in Spain much different from the rest of Europe? How would you describe consumption in Spain?
A - The key for understanding the way that alcohol is consumed in Spain is to understand consumption as part of the Mediterranean lifestyle. People drink in moderation and responsibly—so much so that Spain is the leading producer and consumer of alcohol-free beer in the European Union. That shows that we drink beer for its flavor and qualities, and not for its alcohol content. Moreover, Spain is one of the countries with the lowest alcohol abuse indices in the EU. This has a lot to do with the high penetration of beer among Spaniards and, in particular, with the fact that beer consumption is distributed in moderation throughout the entire week.
Q - In addition to new brewers, a large number of representatives from different parts of the production chain attended the meeting.
A - Every single "link" is vital for the brewing process and, more importantly, a key player in ensuring quality. The beer sector's contribution to the economy starts with the first link in the process, i.e. growing its main ingredients: hops and barley. To that end, we always underline the fact—in the annual report we present as a socioeconomic update at the general meeting—that the Spanish beer industry utilizes almost all of the hops and barley produced in Spain.
Q - Consumption should see a notable upswing with the arrival of spring and summer. Are you expecting to beat records this year?
A - Beer consumption is not only a reflection of our culture and the way we spend our free time, it's also a reflection of the economic situation. Additionally, it's a reflection of the hospitality and tourism industries and, since the number of visitors to Spain is expected to increase in the coming months, we also expect it will be a good period for the beer sector. I don't know if we'll beat records, but I do expect to meet our objective of continuous growth, providing added value to the Spanish economy.