Dutch brewers oppose an announced increase in the consumption tax on non-alcoholic drinks that contain calories. According to brewer foreman Fred Teeven, this frustrates the government’s policy of marketing non-alcoholic beer.
The increase also applies to non-alcoholic beer. The tax will go up next year from 3 cents to almost 7 cents per can.
“At the request of the government, we have been working for years to reduce alcohol consumption by making and promoting alcohol-free beer and now they are getting in our way,” says former minister Teeven in conversation with NU.nl.
The aim of increasing the consumption tax on drinks containing sugar is to encourage people to consume less sugar. “Initially it was important that people drank less alcohol, now it’s sugar. It’s always something,” says Teeven, who is now not only a bus driver but also chairman of Nederlandse Brouwers.
“In the stadiums you only see advertising for non-alcoholic beer. We promote it and then the government wants to make it extra difficult for us. That is inconsistent.”
Non-alcoholic beer is a growth pearl for brewers
For the brewers, the sale of alcohol-free beer is the biggest growth gem in the total beer palette. “About one in fifteen beers that are drunk are now alcohol-free.” Since 2010, its consumption has increased by almost 500 percent.
The major brewers now have more than forty variants. “From Heineken to Corona. Soon all major beer brands will have at least one alcohol-free variant,” said Nederlandse Brouwers.
Over the past five years, the consumption of non-alcoholic beer has grown by almost 8 percent per year. This leaves the specialty beer far behind. That is growing by about 2 percent, while the sale of lager is falling by just under 2 percent. Beer mixes, such as Radler, are declining the fastest at 3 percent.