Beer is the preferred alcoholic beverage in Panama, with its production having grown by 5.1% (above the average of 2% of the rest of Latin America) in 2011, reported Capital.com.pa.
The market is worth more than $390 million a year and is controlled by two large companies: Cervecería Nacional, a subsidiary of SABMiller, and Cervecería Barú- Panamá, under the control of Heineken NV. Last year they produced 247.2 million liters of beer, 5.1% more than in 2010, significantly higher than seco (6 million liters) and rum (7.2 million liters), according to data supplied by the Controller General.
A study by market intelligence firm Nielsen found that in 2011 the per capita expenditure of Panamanians in this frothy drink was $74.1, not including bars and restaurants. Per capita consumption increased from 77 to 80 liters.
Two Panamanian market characteristics that give it an advantage is the variety of brands, about ten, much higher than those offered in other countries, including Costa Rica (8 brands) - and its low prices: $1.60 for a liter of beer, while the average price in the region is $2.31, according to the study.
Between January and August this year, 178.9 million liters were produced, up 7.9% compared to the same period in 2013, in a market where small breweries are gaining ground.
Although the market is dominated by two major domestic producers, small breweries dedicated to the small scale production have begun to increase their presence, responding to changes in the consumption patterns of Panamanians.
Multimillion dollar investments improving production plants and advertisements are showing excellent results.
Between 2006 and 2010, beer production increased by 53 million liters annually. In the first 7 months of 2010, 131.5 million liters of beer were produced which means on average each Panamanian adult drinks 9.5 liters of beer per month.
In 2014 average household spending on soft drinks, beers and soft drinks increased by 17%, while that of dairy products grew by 8%.
From a statement issued by the Foreign Trade Promotion Office of Costa Rica:
The purchasing power of the population of Panama has been strengthened in recent years, thanks to the rapid economic growth of this country, which according to World Bank figures, has an annual per capita income of over $10,000.
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