Lovers of beer have surely noticed the rise in the number of ‘special’ beers by mainstream manufacturers in shops. Index argues that this is a reaction to the popularity of craft beers which has introduced a great deal of change into the Hungarian beer scene.
For some reason, there was a delay to craft beers getting significant popularity in Hungary. It was much faster at other places in the world, but they still became a sort of threat to mainstream manufacturers. In order to keep their customers and market numbers, these mainstream companies had to adapt. The situation in the USA can be taken as an example: there the dominant companies started buying up small craft producers or tried to undermine their values through marketing, labelling them as ‘lame’. In some cases, companies chose the less malign method by coming up with their own recipes.
As people like beers that are a little bit more complex than the simple lagers, the latter strategy proved to be the best.
Big companies are coming out with more and more beer specialities which are even though more expensive than ‘ordinary’ lagers, are still cheaper than the craft beers.
Index found out from the three biggest Hungarian manufacturers that in the summer of 2018 every fifth or tenth beer sold by them was from the new beer-line. 90 percent of all beers sold in Hungary were produced either by Heineken or Dreher or Borsodi. Next to them competes the only Hungarian-owned company, the Pécsi Sörgyár. The Pécsi Sörgyár only focuses on high-quality craft beers, which appears to be profitable, considering their 2017 sales.
Heineken, which is in charge of Soproni, revealed that the Óvatos Duhaj IPA (the first on the Hungarian market among the mass-produced top-fermented beers) amounts up to 10% of the whole Soproni sales. Initially, those who bought the IPA were already fans of beer, but there is a number of others who were not fans of the alcoholic beverage prior to the introduction of IPA, though quickly started venturing further into the world of beers.
According to Heineken, people in Hungary are opting for premium beers lately:
the number of sales of more expensive beers has grown, while the sale of cheap beer has declined. This is due to several factors, like the consumers’ demand for quality beer and the expanding circle of costumers.
Dreher (owned by the Japanese Asahi) reports about an even more significant change: their new beers, like the Pale Ale, make up 20% of Dreher’s wholesales (every fifth product sold by Dreher). Dreher agrees that their consumers are leaning towards the premium products. The classic Dreher beers and the new ones are living peacefully side-by-side, neither of them takes costumers from the other.
Then there is Borsodi (owned by the American Molson Coors), which only produces classic lagers. They told Index that they too have noticed a positive change on the market, concerning both the number of sales and the type of beers sold. The case is the same as in the previous two: people are looking for premium beers, sales are growing.