There was good news for the Polish brewing industry after a poor 2001 performance as first quarter sales suggest that the market may grow between 3 to 5% this year. The market registered only a 0.2% increase in 2001, prompting many analysts to predict a more prolonged period of slow growth.

However the performance of a number of the country's brewers showed that sales were picking up. This, combined with a series of cost-cutting initiatives the businesses have had to put in place to combat a tougher economic environment, should see a series of good results for the beer makers.

The Polish beer market is dominated by four large groups controlled by global players. The Heineken-owned Zywiec group controls 33% of the market. SAB's Kompania Piwowarska holds 31.3%. Carslberg Okocim holds the number three position following its acquisition of the Bosman and Kasztelan breweries from Bitburger. On top of the planned incorporation of Piast brewery, now also owned by Carlsberg, the group's market share is expected to exceed 15%.
Finally there is Brau Union Polska, controlled by Austria's BBAG, with around a 6.5% market share.

Beer sales in Poland grew by an average of 9% between 1994 and 2000. But a tough 2000 with rising unemployment and an economic slowdown saw that growth all but evaporate.

However nearly all breweries recorded a rise in sales in the first quarter 2001, and some also improved their operating performance. The sharpest rise in sales was shown by Carlsberg Okocim, following its acquisitions of the Piast, Kasztelan and Bosman breweries, where first quarter volume rose 75%. 

Zywiec's sales reached 1.63m hectolitres, up 11% on the first quarter last year. And Kompania Piwowarska sold over 1.43m hectolites of beer in the first quarter, a 4.3% rise on the same period last year.