Seven things that beer and beverage companies should expect in the future

CROP 16 9 Drinktec 2022 5
Jonas B. Borrit

Jonas B. Borrit

Vice President

Despite the backdrop of the energy crisis, the increasing inflation, and the war in Ukraine, drinktec 2022 from September 12-16 in Munich managed to turn out to be a very positive event for the beer, beverage and liquid food industry. Here, we present the seven most important things we learned from the companies at drinktec.

October 13, 2022

In September, more than 1,000 exhibitors from 55 countries and nearly 50,000 visitors from 171 countries were gathered at drinktec in Munich. So, following a couple of challenging years due to the Covid pandemic, it definitely seems like the expo has maintained its status as the leading event of the beverage and liquid food industry.

Throughout drinktec, we found a strong focus on inflation, energy prices, water and supplies efficiency. But we also discovered that many companies are planning new projects which is obviously good news in the current economic climate. As always, numerous new innovations and solutions were presented at the event, which gave reason to cautious optimism.

Below, we would like to present our seven highlights from drinktec 2022:

1. Optimization of energy use and water consumption

Sustainability has been a global megatrend for years, and we have seen an increasingly strong focus on sustainable energy consumption and low emissions. But this year, energy consumption and CO2 emissions are also closely related to geopolitical issues that are not related to climate change.

Due to the high price level on energy and the insecure supply, energy optimization was very high on the agenda at drinktec. There was an extreme focus on reducing the use of energy – which obviously also links to a green approach of the beer and beverage companies.

Equally important is the optimization in water consumption. All of our global and regional clients are setting very strict global goals on water that need to be accomplished by 2025-2030.

Water as a scarce resource is driving this change, especially in some parts of the world where availability of drinking water can very soon become a major issue.

2. Digitalisation

A select core of suppliers are seeking opportunities to market their technology on the back of Digitalisation, but as far as we can see, they are to a large extent offering an evolution of their existing services.

We have not seen a single supplier that encompasses the whole Digitalisation spectrum when referring to data capture, transmission and reporting, why we see a strong demand for an independent integrator role going forward. 

Whilst Digitalisation was covered in a broad sense, it appears that few - if any – actually supply a product/service that spans different technologies and brings them all together under one umbrella.   

The Digital Solutions & Digital Transformation supporting programme presented as follows:

  • Opportunities from IoT on performance and consumption filtration
  • Batch orchestration in modular automation
  • At the crossroads of automation, cost efficiency and sustainability

3. OEMs

We visited several OEMs / suppliers at drinktec, and our general impression is that they are all

extremely busy. The OEMs also informed us that prices are very unpredictable and that there is a shortage of different parts, especially electrical components. Delivery times have doubled. As an example of this, one of our clients told us that a supplier had asked for the spare parts that the client had in store in order to be able to deliver in 6 months – otherwise it would take 18 months.

We held productive talks with a series of OEMs concerning some of our upcoming projects, and we had good discussions on sustainability technologies such as CO2 recovery, biogas generation, heat recovery around the distillation process. We also talked about the integration of work package bundles to streamline the tender and implementation process. 

4. Green malt

Breweries and distillers are becoming increasingly focused on green malt as an alternative to traditional malt in brewing and distilling. The term ‘green malt’ basically refers to malt that is germinated, but that has not been dried. The traditional kilning step halts germination by the use of air and heat, and it also adds flavours, aromas, and colours, but it is also the most energy consuming in malting operations. Therefore, green malt is increasingly becoming an attractive alternative in order to bring down both energy costs and the carbon footprint. 

Green malt contains a high enzyme complement and consequently the use of unmalted cereals such as raw barley could help lower – or eliminate - the use of exogenous enzymes when brewing highly attenuated beers. However, using green malt also represents a series of technical and biochemical challenges, in particular related to flavour. No doubt, this is a field that will see significant developments in the future, and NIRAS is actually sponsoring a study at the University of Copenhagen on this specific topic.

5. Beer can become a bi-product

In the future, we might witness how beer in some cases could become a bi-product – a bit like we have seen in recent years with cheese and cheese whey. Previously, whey was just a leftover from cheese production, but now cheese is being produced in order to create whey which is more valuable than the cheese itself.

Something similar could happen to beer, since companies are currently looking into how the leftover residues from beer production can be used in a similar fashion. So maybe you can actually reduce food waste by drinking beer in the future.

6. Internet of Things  / Brewery of the Future

It was evident at drinktec that Internet of Things (IoT) takes more and more space and attention. Particularly when it comes to optimizing processes. IoT is just one of many pieces of puzzle needed to solve the big picture: Brewery of the Future. The idea here lies in better overall usage of all measured data and better communication within the process.

Many OEMs are constantly making and developing new smart software for better control of the process. It is not unusual to see the same process regime being used regardless of the different product/brand. For example, the same flow during filtration or the same duration of maturation. The goal of this new smart software is to optimize current processes based on trends observed in past batches. The program will then notify brewer/operator which specific parameters need to be adjusted and finetuned. Finally, higher yield and lower OPEX can be achieved.

An even more futuristic idea would be an artificial intelligence (AI) software that could automatically make changes within the process and act based on continuous real time measurements. For that reason, further development of IoT is needed to allow superior communication within the production process. To be more concrete, we have talked with OEMs who are developing such software in areas of brewhouse, fermentation, filtration and malting.

7. Tectonic changes in the future

Apart from the above-mentioned areas, many participants at drinktec also showed an interest in topics such as consumer behaviour, new and better ingredients, and the use of microorganisms, etc.

It seems evident that a tectonic shift is underway within nearly all aspects of the beer and beverage industry. Many of the mentioned tendencies could very well end up as ‘license to operate’ like requirements for beer and beverage producers in the future. 

Therefore, it does not seem completely out of line to predict that the breweries and beverage companies that do not adapt in time to the rapidly changing circumstances, could face serious difficulties in years to come. The good news is that there are many ways of preparing for the upcoming changes and secure due diligence.  

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Get in touch

Jonas B. Borrit

Jonas B. Borrit

Vice President

Allerød, Denmark

+45 2938 2476

Nick Hickman

Nick Hickman

Vice President, Projects

Ascot, United Kingdom

+44 7808 249234

Olav Vind Larsen

Olav Vind Larsen

Vice President

Allerød, Denmark

+45 2268 5590

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