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Pioneering a Sustainable Revolution: Microbreweries as Catalysts for Change in Poland's Brewing Industry by Matthias Kadnar

Dear ESG Community, today, I implore you to contemplate the profound impact that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices can have on microbreweries in the splendid country of Poland. Let us delve deeper into the realm of ESG and explore its multifaceted benefits, particularly in relation to water consumption, the beer manufacturing process, and the cultivation of a responsible and inclusive community of beer lovers.


Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage among Poles, with nearly 73% of adults consuming it at least several times a year. This staggering statistic corresponds to approximately 23 million beer enthusiasts in the country. For decades, beer has held a special place in Polish culture, becoming synonymous with social gatherings, celebrations, and even the simplest moments of relaxation. However, as the beer market in Poland approaches saturation, it is essential to explore new avenues for growth and differentiation. This is where the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices in Polish breweries can play a transformative role. By embracing ESG principles, breweries can not only secure their relevance in a changing market but also contribute to a sustainable and responsible future for the entire industry.


The love for beer in Poland is undeniable, as evidenced by the staggering number of consumers in the country. With approximately 23 million beer enthusiasts, comprising 88% of adult Poles who consumed beer in the past year, the beverage holds a special place in the hearts of many. Contrary to stereotypes, beer is not solely a preference among men, as 62% of female consumers also indulge in its delightful taste. The younger population, aged 18-39, demonstrates the highest affinity for beer, with over 80% considering themselves regular or relatively regular consumers. However, the proportion of beer consumers decreases significantly among individuals over 46 years of age, highlighting the generational differences in preferences.


"Poles are among the top five countries in the world in terms of per capita beer consumption. Moreover, they remain loyal to beer brewed in Poland. Hence, the situation is very good and any complaints in the media that, for instance, the sector has seen a 1% decline (though one year earlier there was a 3% increase), are basically unjustified. Poland is currently a dreamland market for craft breweries: we are reclaiming a large desert, which was carefully circumscribed by sector leaders for the last 15 years. Craft breweries have been bringing ‘fresh water’ to that desert for the last three years. While they are still trading in small barrels, the irrigation of the desert has become an irreversible process." Ziemowit Fałat


As the beer market in Poland approaches saturation, it becomes crucial for breweries to not only cater to the evolving preferences of consumers but also to embrace responsible and sustainable practices. By integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into their operations, breweries can further enhance their appeal and contribute to a brighter future for the entire industry. Polish breweries, with their rich history and vibrant culture, can lead the way in embracing ESG practices, ensuring that beer remains an enduring symbol of enjoyment while prioritizing environmental conservation, social responsibility, and ethical governance. Through this harmonious fusion, breweries can continue to capture the hearts and palates of beer enthusiasts while creating a positive impact on society and sales.


Water, the elixir of life, is a finite resource that demands our utmost respect and preservation. In the realm of brewing, where water serves as a primary ingredient and vital component of the production process, its judicious management is paramount. Poland’s breweries can embrace ESG practices by investing in advanced water treatment technologies, implementing water recycling systems, and exploring alternative water sources. This commitment to sustainable water practices goes beyond mere compliance with regulations; it reflects a deep understanding of the interconnectedness between business operations and the preservation of our natural resources. Consider, for a moment, the brewery that utilizes rainwater harvesting systems, effectively reducing its reliance on municipal water supplies while simultaneously reducing strain on the local infrastructure. By championing such initiatives, breweries can serve as beacons of sustainability, inspiring others to follow suit and fostering a culture of responsible water stewardship all over the country.


The beer manufacturing process, with its intricate dance of ingredients and craftsmanship, provides an opportune stage for ESG integration. Imagine a brewery that sources its raw materials from local organic farms, thereby supporting sustainable agricultural practices and reducing the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation. By forging partnerships with farmers who employ environmentally friendly techniques, Polish breweries can not only ensure the quality and traceability of their ingredients but also nurture a symbiotic relationship with the land from which they draw their inspiration. Moreover, by embracing renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, breweries can significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to Polish cities ambition of becoming greener. Picture a brewery adorned with solar panels, silently harnessing the sun's energy to power its brewing operations and minimizing its reliance on fossil fuels. Such a sight would surely inspire both admiration and emulation, setting a shining example of sustainable practices for the entire brewing industry.


Yet, the impact of ESG extends beyond the realm of environmental stewardship. Microbreweries, as cultural epicenters, hold the power to shape societal norms and foster inclusivity. By actively promoting responsible alcohol consumption, breweries can become catalysts for change, helping to mitigate the negative consequences associated with excessive drinking. Consider a brewery that collaborates with local organizations to provide educational campaigns on responsible consumption, hosts alcohol-free events, and supports initiatives addressing alcohol-related issues. Through these concerted efforts, breweries can cultivate a culture of mindful enjoyment, reinforcing the notion that conviviality need not be synonymous with excess. By prioritizing social responsibility, breweries can create a safe and inclusive environment where patrons can appreciate the art of brewing while ensuring their well-being and that of the broader society.


The importance of governance in the pursuit of sustainable business practices cannot be overstated. Breweries that demonstrate strong corporate governance frameworks, characterized by transparency, ethical decision-making, and accountability, inspire trust and confidence among their stakeholders. By adopting stringent codes of conduct, fostering diversity and inclusion within their workforce, and prioritizing employee well-being, breweries can create an environment that nurtures talent, fosters innovation, and upholds the highest standards of ethical conduct. In turn, this will attract socially conscious investors, customers, and partners who seek to align themselves with organizations that prioritize sustainability and responsible business practices. By setting an example of ethical leadership, Polish breweries can contribute.


It is why indeed a crucial ESG framework is needed to ensure that claims of sustainability are not merely empty words, but backed by concrete actions and transparent reporting. This holds true for breweries, including microbreweries, which, due to their social engagement with customers, have an opportunity to lead the corporate social responsibility movement in Poland or be part of the leaders in this realm. To create genuine value and foster trust, breweries must go beyond superficial greenwashing and demonstrate a true commitment to sustainable practices. This involves adopting robust measurement and reporting frameworks. Microbreweries have a unique advantage when it comes to engaging with their customers on a more personal level. With their local presence and community-oriented approach, they can forge strong relationships based on shared values and trust. This makes them well-suited to lead the corporate social responsibility movement in Poland. By prioritizing sustainability and actively involving their customers in their sustainability initiatives, microbreweries can inspire others to follow suit.


Moreover, microbreweries can leverage their supply chains to drive positive change. They can source ingredients locally, supporting small-scale farmers and reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation. They can prioritize national fair-trade practices and establish partnerships with suppliers who share their commitment to sustainability. By demonstrating the importance of responsible sourcing and supporting local economies, microbreweries can inspire a wider movement within the brewing industry and beyond.


In conclusion, microbreweries, through their social engagement with customers and local communities, can lead the corporate social responsibility movement in Poland. By verifying and assuring their ESG data, they can ensure that their sustainability claims are not mere rhetoric. Through transparent reporting, active customer engagement, and responsible supply chain practices, microbreweries can set an example for others and contribute to a more sustainable future.


And WE at Lion Environmental, as a trusted ESG consulting firm, can play a crucial role in helping microbreweries or spirit breweries staging and achieving their sustainability goals. With our unique approach, love for the product and our invaluable expertise and guidance navigate you through the complex landscape of ESG practices and ensuring that your sustainability efforts are effective and impactful. With our support, we can implement sustainable business strategies, verify our ESG data, and align your operations with the highest environmental and social standards. WE at Lion Environmental empower microbreweries to become national Polis leaders in sustainability, making a meaningful difference in your industry and beyond.


What sets beer apart as a beloved beverage in Poland is its versatility. Poles do not require a special occasion to enjoy a pint, with 71% of beer drinkers claiming that they indulge in beer regardless of the event or circumstance. It is a beverage deeply intertwined with social interactions, as 56% of respondents choose beer during social get-togethers, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection. Furthermore, beer serves as a favoured companion during holidays or trips, as 43% of respondents opt for its refreshing taste while on vacation. Additionally, beer holds a prominent role during organized events or parties, with 33% of individuals reaching for a cold brew to enhance their enjoyment.


Matthias Kadnar

Mergers & Acquisitions Associate ESG & Sustainability