Market and Trade Data
Italians Have a Thirst for Beer
also . . .
FAS Report IT6019
In Italy, more than 175,000 food and beverage
outlets serve beer.
is known for its wines, beer is becoming more and more
popular. In 2004, per capita wine consumption dropped to
a record low of 50 liters. Beer still trails wines, but
has reached 30 liters per capita. Between 1996 and 2005,
Italy was the only European market where beer
consumption consistently increased.
For example, in 2004 alone, Italyís beer imports rose
Increased Italian Production, Swelling Consumption
Large beer production plants, as well as microbreweries
and brew pubs, are popping up throughout Italy.
Currently, 19 beer plants employ more than 20,000
people. Although domestic production is up, it still
does not meet growing demand. Therefore, imports are a
steadily increasing beer consumption has stimulated the
opening of new bars and nightclubs that attract a
younger crowd that views beer as "approachable and
trendy." For younger Italians interested in a healthy
lifestyle, beer is perceived as a natural drink that
promotes health and well-being and makes a good
alternative to wine.
to recent surveys, 43 percent of Italian men and 20
percent of Italian women drink beer regularly. These
consumers tend to be young (18-24 years old) highly
educated urban dwellers. For this demographic, not only
is beer seen as a healthy choice, it has the advantage
of being less expensive than wines. However, beer sales
in Italy remain quite seasonal, with 50 percent of sales
occurring in summer months.
Germany, the No. 1 beer producer in Europe, is Italyís
top supplier, with the Netherlands, Denmark, the United
Kingdom, and Belgium trailing far behind. Premium,
specialty, and imported beers are increasing their
market share, and this trend is expected to continue.
For example, premium lager brands manufactured in Italy
find it difficult to compete with the huge range of the
more than 900 imported brands.
Most Italians buy their beer in supermarkets and
hypermarkets. These retail outlets account for 70
percent of all beer sales. Beer is distributed through
hotels and restaurants by a network of 2000 wholesale
companies. Beer sales are also doing quite well in the
HRI (hotel, restaurant and institutional) sector, such
as bars, nightclubs, pubs, and pizzerias. Overall, more
than 175,000 Italian food and beverage outlets serve
addition, microbreweries and brew pubs are slowly
popping up throughout Italy.
While European beers such as Heinekenís and Beckís are
prominent in Italy, there is room in the marketplace for
U.S. brews from both large and small companies.
Italianís beer tastes are sophisticated and are getting
more so all the time.
brewers have strong market potential because they have
learned to brew many different European-style beers. In
short, there is an emerging beer culture in Italy and a
growing interest in U.S. beers by both importers and
segment offers the best opportunity for exporting U.S.
craft beers. A cooperative effort on the part of U.S.
craft beer brewers could offset the costs of selling and
distributing small volumes. Draft beer holds keen
interest for Italian importers.
Dana Biasetti is an
agricultural marketing specialist in the FAS Office of
Agricultural Affairs in Rome, Italy. For more
information on the Italian beer market, contact that