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QUALITY: THE ITALIAN BEER PRODUCERS’ INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT
On the one hand there are those who stick to tradition, on the other hand there are those who import it. Italian beer confirms that its home is in Europe – with the United Kingdom as the leading country - which alone absorbs more than half of national exports. Something like a million hectolitres of finished product for a 73.9% share of exports. This proves that the Old Continent has confirmed its consumer leadership, making it a model imitated all over the world.
The data provided by Assobirra, the Association of Italian beer and malt producers, confirm that in terms of tradition it is right to consider countries like the United States or South Africa, where the consumption of Italian beer is reaching increasingly marked peaks. The U.S.A. imports a glass of Italian beer out of every ten that head abroad, giving a share of trading volume which has reached 9.4%. In South Africa the Italian brewing industry exports more than 67 thousand hectolitres of beer (3.6% of domestic production). These are indicators that measure the increasing importance that "blonde" (lager) Italian beer is gaining in foreign countries. The recession has inevitably had an impact on production levels for Assobirra associates as well, but not in relation to exports, which increased by 161% between 2005 and 2010. In total, Italian exports of beer amounted to 2 million hectolitres, about 13% of annual production, which has a financial value of nearly 180 million Euros. Italian beer is popular abroad, above all “blonde” (lager) beer, since it continues to "monopolise" foreign markets, which in 98% of cases prefer it to other beers on the market.
"In five years - stated Filippo Terzaghi, director of Assobirra - exports have more than doubled, above all in Britain and the U.S.A., which absorb up to three-quarters of our products. These are two markets that very much appreciate both our food and our drinks. In this sense exporting is an important factor that compensates for sluggish domestic consumption. It is mainly the brands that have large distribution networks behind them that have benefitted the most from exports, even if the microbreweries niche has begun making its mark". The fact that beer is a vital sector is confirmed by the data processed during the last economic study of this industry. Including players in the supply chain domestic production of beer employs 140 thousand people, with a turnover of 2.55 billion Euros (including distribution).
The network currently has 350 Italian production plants running, of which 16 are industrial sites. The nature of the product makes the beer industry something that cannot be located elsewhere, and therefore able to transform the quality factor into an important added value.The search for excellent products has led to the players in this industry continuously modernising processing techniques, as well as raising awareness on responsible consumption. In Assobirra, innovation is synonymous with environmental sustainability, which has led to a 70% reduction in water consumption for production purposes in the last 30 years, resulting in significantly reduced environmental impact. This shows that it is possible to be up with the times while maintaining quality targets high. The secret of its success is down to these two distinctive features, a European passport that allows Italian lager beer access to the major export markets worldwide.