Export Development Program participants met at the 29th annual Great American Beer Festival to learn about emerging opportunities to export their beer in the international marketplace.
Marking the first EDP presentation on Italy, Sandro Vecchiato, Managing Director of Interbrau P.S.A, spoke about the beer distribution market in Italy and the expectation of U.S. craft beer export growth.
“In Italy, there is no time to spend on low quality beers,” Vecchiato said. “We are looking for niche beers.” The company sells only beers and of those only specialty brands—no mainstream beers. Currently, Interbrau handles two American craft beer brands, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Brooklyn Brewery. Additionally, more than 90% of Interbrau’s business is in bars, pubs, and restaurants as opposed to super market chains.
Fruity, gueze-based craft beers; Italian and US IPAs; limited edition beers; Blanche Belgian craft beers and seasonal beers are on the rise in the Italian craft beer market. Vecchiato suggests that potential exporters to Italy should make it clear to the consumer that the American craft beer is “what comes out of well renowned European styles, revised and modernized.”
Italy has approximately 30 million beer drinkers, 16 million of which drink beer more than once per week. Craft beer is 1.7% of the overall production, and craft beer breweries have grown in number from 60 in the year 2000 to approximately 320 in 2010.