The Dutch have been spending less money on beer since the start of the corona crisis. In March, brewers’ sales fell by 36 per cent, in April by 32 per cent and in May by 7 per cent.
Figures from the Dutch Brewers show that although more beer is bought in supermarkets and liquor stores for home use, the loss in turnover of the catering industry is far from being compensated.
Even now that cafes and restaurants are open again, turnover has not yet returned to its old level. “Unfortunately, we notice in practice that consumers often stay away and that measures need to be relaxed,” says Lucie Wigboldus of the Dutch Brewers.
Beer exports fell by 40 per cent in May. The Netherlands is the fourth largest beer exporter in the world.
Beer brewers have reduced production in recent months, but it is slowly starting up again. Guided tours of breweries are even organized here and there.
For example, the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, which annually attracts more than 1 million visitors, reopened on 1 June and since this weekend the Hertog Jan brewery in Arcen in Limburg has also been admiring interested parties.
The Brand Brewery in Wijlre will resume the tours on 1 July. The La Trappe brewery in Tilburg is also an attraction, but will not open until September at the earliest.
Guided tours of this era of corona and strict safety requirements are no easy task. At Hertog Jan they were used to welcoming 400 to 500 people one day, now there is a maximum of 144.
“But we are very happy that we can receive guests again after three months,” says master brewer Gerard van den Broek. “Normally we get almost 60,000 visitors here every year, but lately it has been very quiet. And we really want to show what we do here: making specialty beers.”
Commercial coordinator Roel Nelissen of Hertog Jan took three weeks to write the so-called corona plan. This resulted in many stickers on the floor with the text ‘1.5 meters away’ and crosses where the guides should be exactly. And disinfectants are available everywhere.