GLOBAL – The global beer market is expected to return to pre-Covid levels over the next 2 years, and even rise almost 3% higher than pre-pandemic levels by 2026, IWSR reports.

The global alcoholic beverage market research firm notes that the global beer market recovered in 2021, nearly half of the volume losses it endured during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

IWSR data show that beer demand is now recovering, and while many brewers are expanding into other categories, they are continuing to invest in their core beer brands.

This could be the light at the end of the tunnel for beer makers, considering that during the pandemic, beer was more exposed to the collapse of the on-trade while wine, RTDs, and spirits gained a share of the market.

The traditional beer strongholds of North America, Australasia, and Western Europe are also inevitably showing signs of maturity, but demand in other parts of the world is relatively vibrant.

IWSR is particularly optimistic about Central and Southern America, where beer consumption has already surpassed 2019 levels.

With favorable demographics and competition among brewers, beer sales are set for a 15% rise above their pre-Covid level by 2026, with Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico leading the charge.

According to IWSR, this region will contribute nearly three in every 10 liters of global beer growth between 2021 and 2026.

Africa is also on a positive charge, with a young legal drinking age (LDA) population, a low per capita rate of beer consumption, and a climate suited to beer consumption all helping to push up demand, the firm says.

By 2026, IWSR expects the African beer market to be a fifth bigger than it was pre-Covid in 2019, accommodated by the scale of new breweries and infrastructure the big brewers are making, demonstrating that they are there for the long haul.

In Asia, overall prospects for beer are being constrained by a sluggish Chinese market and a declining Japanese market, but outside the region’s two biggest markets, IWSR anticipates volume growth of 22% over the next five years.

Gains are forecasted in markets including the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, and India, where spirits consumption exceeds that of beer, highlighting opportunities that exist for selling beer; this potential will be amplified as India’s middle class grows and more consumers enjoy domestic refrigeration.

While there are downward pressures on beer consumption in more mature beer markets around the globe, category growth will be less focused on volume and more on value.

IWSR says consumers have shown a willingness to upgrade to higher-end products – in line with the ‘less but better’ trend.

In addition, in Western markets, the moderation and “better for me” trends present a considerable opportunity for no-alcohol beer and, increasingly, the globally recognizable beer brands are offering non-alcoholic alternatives.

IWSR believes that, at 74%, beer’s volume share of the beverage alcohol market will have edged down only marginally by 2026, but as brewers invest in global markets and product innovation, the opportunities for beer will continue to present themselves, even further.

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