Sales of brewery beverages steady in the first half of the year, but more than 10% of sales have been lost over the past 10 years

Lehdistötiedote   •   Elo 18, 2015 14:17 EEST

A total of 366.3 million litres of brewery beverages were sold in Finland in January-June 2015. Domestic sales of beer, cider, long drinks, mineral waters and soft drinks were down 1.5 million litres, or 0.4 per cent. These figures are based on sales statistics compiled by the members of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry: Captol Invest, Hartwall, Olvi, Red Bull, Saimaan Juomatehdas and Sinebrychoff.

In spite of steady sales in the January-June period, the situation is worrying. Sales of brewery beverages have fallen over the long term. In January-June 2005, domestic sales of brewery beverages still amounted to 407.9 million litres. However, during the past 10 years, domestic sales shrank by 41.6 million litres, or more than 10 per cent. Over the same period, 30 per cent of jobs at breweries were lost.

“Consumption tax increases have permanently cut domestic purchasing power, while the development of household finances has been muted. Taxation should steer consumers to buy products in Finland instead of Estonia,” says Elina Ussa, Managing Director of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry.

Every day, Finns bring back at least 290,000 cans of beer home with them from Estonia or ships. Private imports by travellers are already substantially greater than total on-trade sales of alcohol in Finland. According to the survey of travellers’ imports by the National Institute for Health and Welfare, only a third of the beer imported by travellers is brewed in Finland; at the beginning of the 2000s, almost all of the imported beer was Finnish.

The alcohol tax has been raised five times since 2008. Finland has the highest beer tax in the EU, almost five times as high as in Estonia.

Travellers’ imports of soft drinks on the rise

Finns pay an extra excise tax on sweets, ice cream and soft drinks – the sweets tax – amounting to 22 cents per litre on sugared soft drinks and 11 cents per litre on sugar-free soft drinks and mineral waters. Since 2011, the sweets tax has been raised three times.

The authorities do not carry out research on the volume of travellers’ imports of soft drinks. According to a survey commissioned by the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry from Taloustutkimus in June, 17 per cent of Finns had brought back soft drinks with them from abroad, as compared to 13 per cent last year.

“The sweets tax hikes pose the risk of encouraging travellers to start importing soft drinks like they do alcoholic beverages – imports would then run out of control,” says Ussa.

The sweets tax is particularly unfair to domestic producers, as their products face a far heavier administrative burden than imported products. Whereas an imported product only has to be reported to the authorities once, a company that manufactures a product in Finland has to submit numerous reports to the authorities before the product is even on the store shelves.

It is estimated that Finns consume 53 litres of soft drinks per person annually. This is one of the lowest consumption figures in Western Europe. Finns drink the least amount of mineral waters in all of Europe, about 18 litres per person.

In January-June 2015, member companies of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry sold a total of 185.7 million litres of beer. This represents a year-on-year decrease of 1.5 million litres, or 0.8 per cent. Long drink sales totalled 17.0 million litres and cider sales 14.0 million litres. Long drink sales declined by 1.7 million litres, or 9.1 per cent, and cider sales by 1.1 million litres, or 7.1 per cent. Soft drink sales amounted to 117.2 million litres. Sales in this beverage group were up 2.6 million litres, or 2.3 per cent. Mineral water sales totalled 32.5 million litres, representing growth of 0.2 million, or 0.6 per cent.

DOMESTIC SALES 1 Jan. 2015 – 30 Jun. 2015

Beverage 2015 2014 Change Change

mill. l. mill. l. mill. l. %
Beer 185.7 187.1 -1.5 -0.8
Cider 14.0 15.1 -1.1 -7.1
Long drinks 17.0 18.7 -1.7 -9.1
Soft drinks 117.2 114.6 2.6 2.3
Mineral water 32.5 32.3 0.2 0.6
Total sales 366.3 367.8 -1.5 -0.4

Source: Member companies of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry. The statistics do not include sales by actors outside the Federation nor private imports of brewery products, which are not statistically recorded. As of the beginning of 2011, the statistics include all the brands of the members of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry and any private label brands they produce.

Additional information:
Managing Director Elina Ussa, tel. +358 (0)45 269 7711
Communications Manager Outi Heikkinen, tel. +358 (0)50 370 8677,,
Twitter: @panimoliitto, Facebook: /panimoliitto, Instagram: @panimoliitto

The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry promotes the interests of producers of beer, cider, long drinks, soft drinks and mineral waters in Finland. Its members are Captol Invest Oy, Oy Hartwall Ab, Olvi Oyj, Red Bull Finland Oy, Saimaan Juomatehdas, and Oy Sinebrychoff Ab. The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry operates in connection with the Finnish Food and Drink Industries Federation and represents Finland’s fourth largest industry in the food and drink branch in terms of the value of production.