Swiss brewers raise a glass to hot summer

Interior Minister Alain Berset doing his bit for beer sales at the opening last month of the OLMA fair in St Gallen, which showcases agriculture and traditional food from around Switzerland Keystone

Swiss beers increased their share in a market whose overall growth declined slightly in 2018/19. The third-warmest summer on record gave the figures a boost. 

This content was published on November 26, 2019 - 16:37

After hopping up by 1.8% in 2017/2018, the beer market increased by 1% to 4.7 million hectolitres over the past financial year, which ran to the end of September. 

Sales of domestic breweries increased by 2.3% to over 3.68 million hectolitres and their market share increased by 1.1 percentage points to 77.8%, the Swiss Brewery AssociationExternal link (SBA) said on Tuesday. The volume of imported beer fell by 3.5% to 1.05 million hectolitres. 

According to initial SBA calculations, per capita consumption remained stable at around 55 litres. Sales of non-alcoholic beer jumped 7.4%. 

In its press releaseExternal link, the SBA highlighted the correlation between beer sales and “hot and sunny” weather, saying monthly weather statistics supported this. The summer of 2019 was the third-warmest in Switzerland since records began, it said. 

Big choice 

However, the sun is not the only reason for beer’s popularity in Switzerland. There is also the increasing variety. 

The days when you could drink whatever you liked as long as it was lager are over. SBA president Markus Zemp estimates that 4,000-5,000 beers are probably brewed in Switzerland. 

While ten years ago around 60% were sold in restaurants and 40% in the retail trade, the situation now is the other way round, says SBA managing director Marcel Kerber. This development is connected to the introduction of smoking bans in public places, he added. 

The SBA said brewing seminars, beer hikes and beer sommeliers were also contributing to the growing popularity of this traditional drink. 

The association said it is also committed to promoting young talent. At present, 35 apprentices are completing their three-year training as food technologists with a focus on brewing beer. 

Last year the association welcomed two new breweries: the Altes TramdepotExternal link in Bern and the Liechtensteiner BrauhausExternal link, two institutions that had already worked with the umbrella organisation for several years regarding training.

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