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Beerworkers Archive


Post date: 07/04/2011 - 13:56

Heineken and Carlsberg in Israel

Since 2005, the Israeli beer market is slowly changing, a change that has been more significant during the last couple of years.

Sagi Cooper, food & wine correspondent, says that Israel follows up the world's trends. Lager and Basic commercial beers are giving their place for craft and premium beers. "It is nice to see that we are going through the same revolution as the wine industry in Israel went a little bit more than a decade ago and microbreweries are opening to fill in the demand for craft brews"

Since 2005, the Israeli beer market is slowly changing, a change that has been more significant during the last couple of years.

Sagi Cooper, food & wine correspondent, says that Israel follows up the world's trends. Lager and Basic commercial beers are giving their place for craft and premium beers. "It is nice to see that we are going through the same revolution as the wine industry in Israel went a little bit more than a decade ago and microbreweries are opening to fill in the demand for craft brews"

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The Israeli beer market size was estimated in 2005 at 800,000 hectoliters. For 2010 are 950,000 to 1,000,000 hectoliters, figures that show a growth of almost 20%. Oren Avrashi, Specialty Beers Manager in Tempo Beer Industries LTD, which holds 51.5% of the market, tries to explain this growth. "There were several factors for the growth and especially the big growth in 2010.

This increasing demand for beer and especially premium beers led the players in the market to change their strategy and seek for new beer brands and extend their portfolio rather than focusing on mainstream lagers. The two big breweries launched new products, Tempo with dark roasted beer, Shandy – low alcohol beer with fruit flavors, Abir, which is an Israeli version of the IPA, and new imported beers like Newcastle brown ale, and Samuel Adams seasonal beers. International beer breweries went out to the market with unique version of Skol and limited additions of imported Leffe and Weihenstephan beers.

The mainstream beers, mostly lagers, have a market share of 64%; most of them are locally brewed. 15% of the market is premium beer labels like Heineken, Stella Artois, Leffe, Erdinger, Franziskaner, Pilsner Urquell, and others, 5% are super premium or specialty beers, most of them are from Belgium, and only 1% is boutique beers, both Israelis and Imported.

The Israeli audience and especially the young audience is very open-minded to new beer styles and always seeks something special and unique; this is the reason that there is an outstanding selection of beers in this relatively small market. The desire for specialty and uniqueness along with the worldwide trend of craft beers led some entrepreneurs to open microbreweries in order to answer the demand. The first microbrewery in the region was opened in 1996 in Taybeh near Ramallah in the Palestinian authority. The next microbrewery, The Dancing Camel, was open in 2005 in Tel Aviv.

Since then, more microbreweries opened each year with 2010 as the most productive year till now. The small microbreweries hold only 1% of the market but not for long. Israeli craft beer gets lot of attention and a warm welcome in the market. This market share is very small, but looking at the experience of the American craft beer market we can see that it is in the first stage of the revolution, diversion from mainstream commercial brands to craft beers. The next step will be to increase total beer consumption

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Currently there are about ten microbreweries in Israel ranging from two hectoliters per brew up to 20 hectoliters per brew. There are two strategies in the craft brewing industry in Israel. One claim that the beer brewed should be a mainstream beer and the difference between this beer and the commercial mainstream beer will be in the quality and freshness of the product. The other strategy claims that craft beer should use its relatively small size and do what big commercial breweries can't do, allow themselves to brew special beers which hit only part of the market's taste. No matter what strategy, the brewer who adopts craft beer will always be different from mainstream beer.

What the future holds for the Israeli beer market one can never know for sure, but looking at the current developments certain patterns can be identified, the same as was in other foreign markets. Applying the foreign experience on the Israeli market will lead to the conclusion that there is still a great potential in this market.