When thinking of Italy and its excellencies in food and beverage, beer may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but the country can boast one of the most interesting and growing production markets in the world.
Featuring several global brands (Peroni been recently acquired by Asahi), Italy exports globally more than 40% of its production of about 210 megaliters, and has tripled its export value in the last ten years. Impressive year-to-year growth was recorded for a few countries in Asia, including China (+403% against 2014), Vietnam and South Korea (+343% and +113% respectively).
While the history of beer in Italy has been deemed a recent one - less than two centuries old, slowly finding some space in a predominantly wine-oriented market - small streams of beer-making traditions have been lining the territory of Italy throughout the century, possibly since the Etrurian civilization, which predates the Roman kingdom.
While the Italian consumer has been only partially receptive to beer until the Seventies, Italian beer is now experiencing a new renaissance thanks to the sudden boost in the number and quality of craft beers. Born in the Nineties, Italian craft beer has been slowly spreading from Northern Italy to the rest of the peninsula, together with the increase in microbreweries and self-producing pubs. This shows an increase in quality over quantity; Italians drink almost one third the amount of beer compared to North Europeans, but associate drinking more with harmony and good-living, a phenomenon dubbed the "mediterranean model" by experts.
Exports from Italy to Japan, though experiencing a sudden slowdown in 2015 - mostly due to instability in the exchange rate - have anyway grown three-fold in the last ten years, closely following the steep curve at the global level, and is expecting to keep the positive trend. One of the major challenges is represented by the ability of producers to penetrate the numerous Italian restaurants to boost distribution, being careful to integrate and not to enter into competition with the traditional wine offer.
Aware of its potential, since 2011 the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan has promoted Italian beer to its network through Biritalia, a beer garden with a decidedly Italian flavor: the best Italian beers and a careful matching of atmosphere and food. In 2016, the classic Birra Menabrea and Birra Moretti are offered in an all-you-can-drink style on the rooftop of Ginza Paper Pulp building, in the heart of the most prestigious shopping district of the city.
(The event takes place on multiple dates and registration may still be open for some: please check here)