Revival of bar culture
Vytenis Sakalauskas, head of the Briusly bar, located in Vilnius, notes that changes in alcohol consumption are seen with the naked eye. "This year, the sales of light alcohol on working day evenings and weekends are at least 20-30%. higher than last year. A year or two ago, there was nothing like it, because some people were likely to buy alcoholic beverages at the store," explains V. Sakalauskas. Beer makers also notice that this year people are more likely to go to bars and restaurants. Rolandas Viršilas, Director General of Švyturys-Utenos Alus and Carlsberg Baltic, explains that this change is visible. "In terms of stores, we see that beer sales have risen,
but much less than in bars and restaurants, where we sell beer more than a fifth more than last year. Lithuania has until now been the country where the so-called HORECA (hotels, restaurants and bars) sales were among the lowest in Europe, so the rise is welcome. It also shows the greater purchasing power of our people, and more active leisure and socialization," - notes Viršilas.
Rescue from the heat
Švyturys-Utenos alus sold 12% more drinks in July this year than in July 2017. The beer sales were up by 11%, soft drinks - by 20%, water - even by 27%. According to R. Viršilas, the exceptionally hot summer not only grows sales of all the beverages produced by the company, but also changes the sales structure. The company sells a lot more premium and light and non-alcoholic beer.
"The heat waves have corrected forecasts for the decline of the beer market, but the tendencies of recent years have been exacerbated further by the fact that we sell more low-alcohol beer and on the sharp rise are soft drinks and alcohol-free beer," says Švyturys-Utenos alus manager.
Non-alco beer is chosen for taste
Changes in consumer habits are also illustrated by the fact that the total number of Švyturys-Utenos alus non-alco range, namely "Švyturys GO" and other non-alcoholic beer brands, has experienced the sharpest rise in comparison with last year. During the hot month of July, the company sold even 133 percent more non-alcoholic beer than in July last year, and during the seven months of this year, non-alcoholic beer sold by 144 percent more. For example, during this year's Sea Festival in Klaipeda consumers bought 71 percent more non-alcoholic "Svyturys" beer than during the same feast in 2017. The total non-alcoholic beer amounted to about 3.5 percent the whole beer bought at the feast. "In 2015 and 2016, the segment of non-alcoholic beer took about 1 percent in all the beer market. Since then, this part has more than tripled. This shows that our innovations in the development of new non-alcoholic beer types and tastes were highly appreciated by consumers, "says Managing Director of Švyturys-Utenos alus and Carlsberg Baltic.
"Švyturys-Utenos alus" is the only Lithuanian company that has non-alcoholic beer production equipment. The progress made in the process of microfiltration technology due to different material densities allows the filtering of alcohol from the conventionally produced and fermented beer. In this non-alcoholic beer all the usual beer tasting properties are maintained. In most other companies, older technology is still used, when alcohol is evaporated by reheating beer. But the main disadvantage of this method is that reheating changes the taste of beer, which is why beer was not attractive to most consumers before.
Managing Director of Carlsberg Baltic R. Viršilas says that Lithuanian results are not exclusive for the region. Heat affects sales of Carlsberg companies in Latvia and Estonia. Compared to July 2017, the sales of Carlsberg Group companies in the Baltic States in July are more up to 25%: in Latvia - 30%, in Estonia - 53%. But it is fearful that the hot summer of this year will generate not only beer sales, but also raw material prices, which have already begun to rise as a result of the heat waves in the North and Central Europe.