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International Trade

Bottoms Up: A Beer Blog

Beer, it is one of the world’s oldest and most consumed beverages. Everyone from Jesus to Homer Simpson drank beer, and millions of people around the globe still enjoy cracking open a cold one. In 4000 BC, it was the Sumerians who fermented a bread-type drink that had an intoxicating effect; in 3000 BC it was the Babylonians, who had more than 20 different beer options to choose from; today it’s your average hipster dad brewing an IPA in his garage or man-cave. But for those of us who don’t have the time or money to start our own brewing operation, there are plenty of tasty, well-priced beer that are imported to the US from all over the world.

Beer production and beer trade

Beer is big money for many countries. In fact, every year for close to three decades has seen increased beer production. In 2013, beer companies made 192.94 million kiloliters of beer. In 2014 beer exports around the world numbered $13.4 billion. All signs point to an ever-growing thirst for the alcoholic beverage. Over the last decade, the world’s beer production has increased by 36%. China, the world’s biggest producer of beer (followed by the US and Brazil), brewed nearly 5% more beer in 2013 than in 2012. And all of Asia followed suit: the region’s production spiked 3.9% during that same time period, making it the fifth year in a row where the beer flow increased. Latin America also saw production increases during that time – its 11th consecutive year of increase. Dynamic markets like Vietnam, India, and Nigeria all grew their beer production by about three times in 2013. And while the US and Europe’s brewing decreased slightly, these regions are still huge participants in a robust global beer trade.

Mexico, a country that we’ve sung praises for for its avocados and car parts trade, wins the honor of being the top beer exporter in the world. And if you’ve ever sucked down a Corona, a Tecate, or a Dos Equis, you’ve had an imported Mexican beer. Not only are Mexican beers pretty tasty, they’re also a great value – that’s why you see them at both college parties and your parents’ barbecues. More than 75% of Mexico’s beer exports go to their neighbor to the north, the US (the States, by comparison, only sends about 10% of America’s exported beer to Mexico). That’s $1.8 billion of the US’ $3.36 billion of imported beer. That’s a whole lot of beer going from Mexico to the US.

The Netherlands, is the second largest exporter of beer worldwide – second only to the beer-exporting behemoth Mexico. Heineken is one of the most recognizable Dutch beer brands, but the country also produces plenty of specialty beers and microbrews. Dutch beer was once the most imported beer in the world, until Mexico’s beer exports took over that title in 2010. But no need to fear, people around the world still love a good, Dutch beer. In 2014, exports to markets like France, China, and Taiwan rose from the previous year. Perhaps this is a sign that the Netherlands will once again dominate the global beer market in the not too distant future?

(Here is a great beer importation – exportation infographic for you to discover more)

How much do American like beer?

The US is a huge importer of beers from further away locations. The Netherlands, which exported a total of $1.5 billion worth of beer in 2014, sends about $795 million of that beer to the US. Likewise, Belgium, which exports almost $1.2 billion worth of beer worldwide, sends the US about $248 million worth of beer. The United Kingdom and Germany exports $200 million and $179 million worth of beer to the United States.  Those numbers aren’t as huge as the Mexico-US beer trade, but it does tell us one thing (that we probably already know): the United States loves drinking beer. No country comes even close to importing the same amount of brew as the US. The best sellers – in terms of volume in the US include: Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Corona Extra, Natural Light, Michelob Ultra, Busch and Heineken.

From production to trading, beer has only made gains in the last few years (decades, really). So the next time you pull a beer out of the cooler during a family get together or a raging party, you can think about how you are participating in world trade (unless you’re in the US and consuming a product of one of the US’ 3000 breweries).

Starting an import / export business? Fleet could be the right platform for you. 

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