Belgian brewers exported more hectolitres than their European neighbours in 2017, snatching first place from the Germans.
The Brewers of Europe federation revealed its rankings of the largest beer exporters in Europe. Belgium was in the lead with exports of 15.8 million hectolitres. Just below them, in second place, was Germany with exports of 15.75 million hectolitres. Third place on the podium went to the Netherlands, which export 14.14 million hectolitres of beer a year. Europe as a whole beat its record for beer exports, which now stands at 87 million hectolitres.
It should be stressed that the gap between Belgium and Germany, which came first in 2016, was 2.4 million hectolitres at the time. This means that 2017 was an extraordinary year for Belgian exports. Belgium now dominates the rankings after finishing in third place for two years in a row.
However, beer production in Belgium remains well below that of its neighbours. More than 70% of the 20 million hectolitres produced leaves the country, whereas Germany produces more than 93 million hectolitres, making it the biggest beer producer in Europe.
Of the 15.8 million hectolitres exported, 10.3 million are sent to other European countries and 5.5 leave the European Union. In terms of destination countries, France imports the most Belgian beer (4.2 million hectolitres), followed by the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
A reminder of the brewing sector in Belgium: 261 breweries, 1,500 trademarks, 50,000 direct and indirect jobs and inclusion on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.