A Snap Shot of the Hungarian Beer Market: Competitiveness in the Beer Industry

Major, Anita

Keywords: beer, Hungary, production, trade, consumption, Q18

In all segments of the Hungarian economy, dynamic changes have been induced by the economic crisis. This is true of the beer sector. The main changes come from the realignment of consumer behaviour: owing to the economic crisis the discretionary income of the potential consumers has decreased therefore they look for more economical alternatives in their beer purchases. The two most significant trends on the beer market are on the one hand the demand move – concerning both quality and price – from the middleware beers towards the commercial labelled (non-branded) beer products with lower quality and price, on the other hand the move from the consumption in the HoReCa sector to the home consumption of beer products purchased in retail channels.
Owing to the crisis, Hungarian beer-producers not only got into a difficult situation caused by the changes in consumption, but also the available survival strategies for the sector have been limited by the ever deteriorating economic-financial circumstances, e.g. the increase of the prices of raw materials, and the declining competitiveness caused by tax and duty increases. The beer sector responded to the changing consumer habits with a strategy based on sales and actions to meet the changing needs of consumers. The initial aim of the strategy was to maintain the position of middleware brands; moreover the beer products with lower alcohol contents (and/or flavour) were much more strongly emphasised by the producers in line with the new trend of healthy life.
To stabilise their market status the breweries needed to analyse and influence the sometimes independent, but at the same time significantly coherent, parameters in a compound and complex market environment. Even today it is necessary to follow up the market changes, and to establish innovation in line with the changing consumer needs and consumption trends, as this is a possible way to ensure the long-term and stable market presence for the sector participants. The long term success of the strategy initiated after the economic crisis is still questionable but the mid-time results can be considered positive: the 10% decrease in sales has stopped and with the help of the introduction of new products and the extension of product assortment beer consumption has slightly increased compared to the years of the crisis.