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MSSZ Marks 175 Years of Modern Beer Production in Hungary

Drinks

From left: Marcin Burdach (Carlsberg Hungary), Nikos Zois (Heineken Hungária), Zoltán Szemerey (Pécsi Sörfőzde), MSSZ director Sándor Kántor, Gábor Békefi (Dreher Sörgyárak), Zsolt Vuleta (Borsodi Sörgyár).

The Hungarian Brewers' Association (MSSZ) celebrated the 175th anniversary of the beginning of modern Hungarian beer production with a professional roundtable discussion attended by the heads of the five largest beer producers in Hungary.

The participants of the roundtable stressed that without continuous product and production technology development since 1848, today's successful operation would be unthinkable, but the efficiency required to ensure the internationally expected return on investment in the industry can only be achieved with billions of forints of additional investment.

In 1848, József Puchner founded the country's first modern brewery in Pécs, on the site of the old Franciscan monastery's monastic brewery, which served as the predecessor of today's Pécsi Sörfőzde. The 175 years that have passed have brought huge changes both in terms of the products produced and the needs of consumers, which have been accompanied by huge developments at the premises of the successor to 1854's Kőbánya Brewery, Dreher Sörgyárak; the successor to the First Sopron Brewery and Malt Factory, established in 1895, which is today's Heineken Hungária Sörgyárak; and Borsodi Sörgyár, founded in 1973.

The 19th-century invention of the industrial revolution, the steam-powered cooling machine, was pioneered by the brewing industry, as was modern water analysis. The power of the steam engine has now been replaced by electricity from renewable energy sources, and water analysis has been combined with state-of-the-art digital production control. As a result, the range of products and production volume of Hungarian breweries has increased several-fold over the past nearly two centuries. In 1890, only 1.2 million hectolitres of beer were produced in Hungary, while in 2022 production exceeded five and a half million hectolitres.

The roundtable discussion, which spanned the centuries, also covered the biggest challenges and achievements of the recent past, and what five Hungarian leaders of the industry, Zsolt Vuleta (Borsodi Sörgyár), Marcin Burdach (Carlsberg Hungary), Gábor Békefi (Dreher Sörgyárak), Nikos Zois (Heineken Hungária) and Zoltán Szemerey (Pécsi Sörfőzde). 

"The reform of domestic waste management is a complex task for our industry, which affects all areas of our operations, including production, logistics, trade, and marketing," Zsolt Vuleta, managing director of Borsodi Sörgyár responded to a question from news portal Index when asked about the expected impact of the plans to make disposable beverage packaging returnable in Hungary from January 1, 2024. He explained that they are in the preparation phase, with intensive work going on in the background.

"At the same time, it is important to note that the deadline is short, as it is already the middle of May and next January is just around the corner," he added.

Vuleta said that communication needs to speed up, and that much more data and information on the forthcoming regulation are needed, and that in the absence of this, the second half of the year will be extremely tense.

He said that in addition to the restructuring of their internal processes, the necessary steps must also be taken in the supply chain.

Index's report noted that considering that 70% of the Hungarian beer market is made up of canned products, this is no small task, and the introduction of the deposit fee will change everything: packaging, labeling, and identification.

According to the head of the Bőcs-based brewery, the cans have to be ordered and produced accordingly, which takes a considerable amount of time, but for the time being they do not have nearly all the important information.

Dreher general manager Gábor Békefi noted regarding the regulations, "In other countries, all the industries concerned have been given a year and a half to prepare, and you don't necessarily have to go all the way to the Netherlands to find a good example of this, as this is how it happened in the neighboring Slovakia."

The kind of transition that is needed now, from labeling changes to IT system adjustments, takes more than four to five months because of the complex supply chains, Békefi added. 

He also noted that in the sectors that are facing the new system, the lack of a definitive law on the basis of which to prepare is causing tension, but it is not just the beer industry that is under stress, but all the other food sub-sectors involved.

And what can the next 175 years bring for the sector?

"The largest beer producers in Hungary have proven over the past 175 years that they are the first in every age to recognize the achievements of science and apply the latest innovations that result from them. In addition to centuries-old traditions and the cultivation of beer culture, this knowledge in innovation management is the guarantee for the continued development of the sector in the next 175 years," MSSZ director Sándor Kántor said.

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