Carlsberg’s CEO Cees’t Hart believes that the most pressing issue in the beer industry today is how to create a sustainable future. He also cautioned that if the beer industry does not involve the environmental factors as their core considerations, the millennials will stay away from the beer market.
The speech of the Danish beer giant' s CEO at the European Brewers Forum focused on sustainability and emphasized that sustainability is the biggest challenge facing the industry.
He also emphasized the requirements of today's millennials for sustainable development, saying that if beer merchants want to succeed in the future, they must meet such expectations.
The changing beer types
In the past 10 years, the development of the beer industry has grown by leaps and bounds.
At the heart of development is innovation – broadening the range of choices for different consumers and different occasions. One clear indication for this positive innovation is that there are currently 7,500 breweries in
Craft beer and specialty beer have always been the key drivers of the beer market, and the focus of the brewers has shifted from quantity to quality. Brewers are also working to increase their social responsibility, such as providing nutritional information, creating low/non-alcoholic beers, and promoting responsible drinking.
But what about tomorrow's beer? Cees't Hart said that all of these will continue to be important issues for the future, but environmental considerations will become even more important.
“What is most important to us now is the new challenge. How do we make the beer industry sustainable? How can we move forward in a sustainable way?”
Listen to the voice of millennials
The millennials are the most important target market for the beer industry as well as other food and beverage industries. Hart calls them “the source of future income”. They are different from the baby boomer generation because they want to understand the environmental footprint left by what they eat, drink and use.
"They want us to listen to their worries. In this way they also want us to make changes. They worry about the future, worry about the planet, they want us to listen."
“These are wealthy consumers – they vote with their wallets or feet – they either spend money or stay away from our product – or any other product. They really want us to have more sustainable products."
So what does “sustainable” mean in the beer industry? This concept covers the entire industrial chain from raw materials to distribution.
In agriculture, climate change and population growth are putting increasing pressure on raw materials. Hart believes that solutions can include sustainable farmer partnerships, breeding weather-tolerant crop varieties or high-yield crops, and carbon sequestration (removing carbon from the atmosphere).
For the breweries, carbon dioxide emissions and water use control are key to making beer more sustainable. Solutions include reducing carbon dioxide emissions – abandoning fossil fuels and using green energy – as well as reducing water use and eliminating wastewater.
In terms of packaging, increasing recycling rates and the use of recycled materials will help make beer packaging more sustainable, in addition to promoting innovation in packaging.
Hart also suggested that brewers should also consider improving their distribution methods, such as using trains as bulk transportation vehicles and using electric vehicles in cities.
He concluded by summing up, "This is about rethinking, reducing, reusing and recycling."