Belgian Beer Consumption, Exports Decline In 2023, Study Finds

By Dayeeta Das
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Belgian Beer Consumption, Exports Decline In 2023, Study Finds

Beer consumption in Belgium fell by 5.8% in 2023, while exports fell by 7.5% amid challenging economic and business conditions, according to the latest data from Belgian Brewers - the association that represents brewers in the country.

Last year, 23 new breweries opened in the country, but 36 were forced to close their doors. The total number of breweries in Belgium reduced to 417 in 2023 from 430 in 2022.

Around 6.5 million hectolitres of beer were consumed in Belgium last year and the decline in itself is nothing new for the sector, given that beer consumption has been declining in the country for more than 20 years, the association noted.

In the past, brewers were largely able to absorb the decline in consumption through exports. However, in 2023, exports fell for the first time in history.

Brewers attributed the decline in exports to competitiveness, which came under pressure due to rising wages and energy costs.


Due to these factors, Belgian breweries are struggling to remain competitive against the growing local supply of breweries in export countries.

Cost-Of-Living Pressure

Moreover, consumers burdened with cost-of-living pressure are more likely to opt for cheaper local alternatives over imported Belgian beer.

The decline in consumption is also linked to increased health awareness among consumers, the association added.

Krishan Maudgal, director of Belgian Brewers, stated, “The challenges for our sector are considerable: rising energy, production and wage costs, personnel shortages and a lasagna of taxes that puts pressure on our competitiveness. In addition, the pendulum in the fight against alcohol abuse sometimes threatens to swing and certain policymakers appear to want to restrict all forms of alcohol consumption. Although this requires some vigilance, we remain hopeful.


“Our brewers are showing incredible resilience to meet the challenges they face. Just like they have always done in the past. The glass is and remains half full. We call on tomorrow's policymakers to develop a well-thought-out policy in the next legislature to, together with us, guarantee the competitiveness of our sector and protect and promote Belgian beer culture.”

Belgian Beer Sector

In 2023, the 417 breweries, representing approximately 1,600 beer brands, invested almost €251 million.

The sector contributes €4 billion to the Belgian economy each year, or 1% of the gross domestic product, according to estimates from the country's Federal Planning Bureau.

It includes, among others, income from excise duties and packaging levies paid by brewers.


Moreover, Belgian beer provides around 6,927 direct jobs and 50,000 indirect jobs.

“Despite the declining figures, the reputation of our Belgian beer remains intact and it still attracts attention at home and abroad. After all these years, Belgian beer continues to put our country on the international map,” explained Maudgal.

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