The Netherlands is the largest beer exporter in the EU

In 2020, the Netherlands was the biggest exporter of beer in the European Union. It exported more than 2 billion euros worth of beer last year, mainly to the United States, of which 121 million euros concerned non-alcoholic beer. Worldwide, the Netherlands is even the second-largest beer exporter, after Mexico. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

In each year of this century, the Netherlands was the top exporter of alcoholic beer in the EU, but the gap between the Netherlands and Belgium is closing. The value of Dutch beer exports was 75 percent higher than in 2000, while the Belgian export value increased almost fivefold in the period 2000-2020. Germany and France are the third and fourth largest exporters of alcoholic beer in the EU.

Worldwide, there is one country that exports significantly larger volumes of alcoholic beer than the Netherlands, namely Mexico. Mexican beer exports have skyrocketed over the past four years in particular; the country currently exports twice as much beer as the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the second-largest beer exporter in the world, after Mexico.

Top exporters of alcoholic beer in the EU
 Netherlands (bn euros)France (bn euros)Belgium (bn euros)Germany (bn euros)
20001.0970.1730.3740.681
20011.2160.1940.3720.749
20021.4050.1910.3940.763
20031.3480.1530.4000.815
20041.2360.1470.5180.898
20051.2480.1550.5450.845
20061.4440.1510.5870.858
20071.4070.1460.6460.916
20081.4210.1700.6320.942
20091.3790.1720.6970.866
20101.3710.2280.7320.950
20111.3540.2730.7920.995
20121.5270.3531.0631.067
20131.5080.3331.0901.033
20141.5360.3511.0541.075
20151.7010.3491.1531.140
20161.7580.3561.3031.181
20171.7240.3581.4831.144
20181.7220.3441.5521.167
20191.8490.3131.7441.206
20201.9150.3301.7411.108
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Exports of non-alcoholic beer growing faster in percentage terms

As of 2017, non-alcoholic beer is measured separately in the statistics. All beer containing less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) is counted as non-alcoholic beer. In 2017 and 2018, Germany was the largest exporter of non-alcoholic beer in the EU. However, the Netherlands took over this position in 2019 and 2020. Last year, the export value of non-alcoholic beer was nearly twice as high as in 2017, while German exports barely grew. Moreover, Dutch exports of non-alcoholic beer grew considerably faster (+83 percent) in this period than the export of beer containing alcohol (+11 percent). After Germany and the Netherlands, the main exporters of non-alcoholic beer are Bulgaria, Poland, Spain and Belgium. Remarkable was the sharp increase in Bulgaria’s exports of alcohol-free beer last year.

Top exporters of non-alcoholic beer in the EU
 2017 (million euros)2018 (million euros)2019 (million euros)2020 (million euros)
Netherlands665799121
Germany74808480
Bulgaria41938
Poland881623
Spain19191720
Belgium7112420
Source: CBS, Eurostat

Americans love Mexican and Dutch beer

The main destination for Dutch beer is the United States, but its neighbour Mexico is the largest beer supplier for Americans. No less than 71 percent of the beer imported by the United States in 2020 came from Mexico, 14 percent came from the Netherlands and 6 percent from Belgium.

From a Dutch perspective, the United States is by far the most important buyer of alcoholic beer. As much as 37 percent of Dutch beer goes to the United States, followed by France (10 percent) and the United Kingdom (5 percent). For Belgium, France is the most important customer, ahead of the Netherlands and the United States.

Dutch non-alcoholic beer also predominantly goes to the United States (42 percent), followed at a great distance by the United Kingdom (8 percent) and Canada (7 percent). As for German alcohol-free beer, 19 percent goes to the United States and 18 percent to the United Kingdom.

Top 10 export destinations for Dutch beer, 2020
 Alcoholic beer (million euros)Non-alcoholic beer (million euros)
United States71651
France2014
United Kingdom9010
Canada828
Germany822
Paraguay790
China751
Taiwan702
United Arab Emirates521
Cyprus350
Source: CBS, Eurostat