One in a hundred...

This morning, the Gremi d'Elaboradors de Cervesa Artesana i Natural de Catalunya -Union of Craft and Natural Beer Producers from Catalonia, known as GECAN- and the Barcelona Beer Festival have presented the report Estat de la Cervesa Artesana a Catalunya 2016 -State of Craft Beer in Catalonia 2016-, a study that compiles and talks about data collected from a survey of eighty-two questions, asked to 95 of the breweries in the territory. The key aspects of the report relate to the location of the companies, the production in volume and variety, the size of the businesses and the occupation generated, distribution of the sales or lines of action for the future.

"The 1% threshold has been exceeded: one of every hundred beers consumed in Catalonia is craft"

The first thing that caught my eye, without even going into the data collected in the report, is the fact that at the time of the study there were 105 companies with the sanitary licence to produce beer, and the study collects data from 95 of them. Which is very successful. Among the 10 not represented, companies with a licence that still do not produce, licences with no brewery and the macro-breweries. But also some companies that have declined to participate because they did not want to disclose the information that was requested in the survey. It is their right, of course, and in this sense they are crystal clear about their answer to the final question that I retorically asked after this entry in favour of transparency. However, I wonder what makes these brewers different, apart from their size, from the big companies that week after week are demonised by so many voices in the craft sector.

But let's talk about the report. Within its pages we find a good handful of interesting data on the development of a sector that has grown while everything was decreasing, before a fierce financial crisis that witnessed the birth of a small industry that today employs 214 people. Moreover, it has promoted the setup of other businesses that give them service, as well as an environment of commercial establishments that is very relevant today, specially in Barcelona city. Undoubtedly, an example of economic dynamism in a totally adverse environment: if we could make beer more sexy for the economic and thought-leading elites, the case would one day be studied in business schools.

It will certainly be very interesting to collect some of the observed data on a regular basis -annually would be amazing-,  such as the local sales -less than 30km away from the factory-, which stands at 46%; or sales in specialised businesses, which represent 65% of the total. The good health and transversality of the sector could suggest, theoretically, that the first percentage should be increasing, and the second one decreasing. But then we have to consider exports, which today represent a 16% of what is brewed: further proof that things are being done pretty well, as I have always liked to emphasise.

But if a piece of data is especially noteworthy in this exercise, it is undoubtedly that of annual production and consumption. Since 2012, a continuous annual growth of 40% has been observed, placing the volume of craft beer production at 3 million liters in 2016. If we look at it in terms of consumption, considering that 279 million litres of beer are consumed annually in Catalonia, the information points to the fact that the threshold has been exceeded: with 1.08%, it can be affirmed that one out of every hundred beers consumed is craft.

This figure contrasts with the 0.7% for the whole Spanish State, that was derived from the last socio-economic report of Cerveceros de España: it would be frankly interesting to have this information after a conscientious exercise, like the one BBF has performed with GECAN.

Thinking about the future, I think it is very relevant that we start to have this kind of information. Personally, I want to be able to have a peek at the entire exercise to be able to play with the data and draw other conclusions of my own such as, for instance, the size of the factories matched with other variables such as the location of those, or specialised sales. I hope that in a short time I will be able to dedicate some time to go deeper into these and other aspects.

For those interested in reading the summary of the report, please follow this linkEstat de la Cervesa Artesana a Catalunya 2016 -although it is in Catalan-.

Salut i birra!

Transparency disclaimer: I am part of the organisation team of the Barcelona Beer Festival, which has prepared the report commented in this post, along with GECAN.


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