Jean-Louis Van de Perre, President of the Belgian Brewers
Published: 2014-12-11 11:08:31 +0100 / Last Updated: over 1 year ago
BRUSSELS - In June, Jean-Louis Van de Pere succeeded Theo Vervloet as President of the Belgian brewers’ federation known as the Belgian Brewers. This was also shortly before Sven Gatz would leave his position as Managing Director of the federation to become a minister in the newly formed Flemish Government.
“I am not a brewer, unlike Theo who worked for the Affligem brewery,” he apologises straight away. “But my father was a brewer and I spent my childhood in the brewery."
"I saw my Dad at work, played in the storage areas, inhaled the wonderful aroma of malt... That magic has never lost its grip on me. Also, even as a child, I had our table beer with meals and that gave me a taste for beer.”
The Antwerp-based Van de Perre brewery, owned by Jean-Louis’s grandfather, ceased trading in 1961.
Jean-Louis’s father was in charge of the Veltem brewery, which was eventually taken over by Anglo Belge, itself a subsidiary of the French Kronenbourg Group.
So the newly installed President will have his own views on the wave of consolidations in the beer world. Van de Perre Senior brewed "spéciale belge amber beers in the days before the great revival of Belgian speciality beers that was the basis for success in export markets.
The World Cup of Beer
The new president is a down-to-earth lawyer, financial expert and tax adviser. Jean-Louis Van de Perre started his career as an advisor with KPMG Management Consulting, and spent 12 years with Exxon in a similar role followed by 14 years with AB Inbev, working in global finance.
You would expect a financial expert to come up with numbers. Every year, Belgian breweries make investments to the tune of some €150 million. They employ 4,500 people and indirectly create 45,000 jobs.
“Don’t underestimate the economic importance of our sector,” says Jean-Louis Van de Perre. Our brewers also work closely with local distribution partners, which accounts for 60% of the brewers' turnover, and the hotel, café and restaurant trade, which takes the remaining 40% of production by turnover.
The Federation of Belgian Brewers represents the lion’s share – measured both by volume and by turnover - of beer production in Belgium. Members include most of the large and medium-sized brewers. And business is booming. After a small dip caused by the increase of excise duty on beer in France, exports are increasing once more. In Belgium itself, the good summer we’ve had played right into the brewers’ hands.
Also, the football World Cup, at which the national team went out at the quarter-final stage, gave the entire world a thirst for Belgian beer.
To Serve & Protect
Jean-Louis views the beer world in an open-minded and unprejudiced way. He praises the diversity and sophistication of Belgian beer culture. “We aim to strengthen the Belgian beer category and increase market share through joint initiatives,” he promises.
For example, the Belgian Brewers have launched the nationwide ‘Fier op ons bier’ campaign that wants to fill Belgians with ‘pride in our beer’. The initial results are very promising and the campaign is set to continue on television and social media.
So, what are the big challenges that the Federation has to face? “To protect and develop the ‘Belgian Beer’ brand,” Jean-Louis responds. “Apart from ‘Fier op ons bier’, we are the organisers of the annual Belgian Beer Weekend in early September.
And we have joined hands with the city and the district of Brussels to set up the new beer experience centre in the former Stock Exchange building.
The Federation is also supporting the brewers’ initiatives to lay down strict criteria for the protection of traditional Belgian beer styles – lambiek, oude gueuze, oude kriek, spéciale belge, roodbruin, saison… – to prevent copycats from undercutting the market with inferior products.
“We want to create a healthy base for the export of Belgian beer,” Jean-Louis says. “We are not doing this on our own. We have round table meetings with all organisations that have a stake.”
A Builder of bridges, a catalyst… There is no lack of challenges facing the new President. We wish him every success in the world!
Brussels Blog Posts
BRUSSELS - For the fifth running of the Brussels Beer Challenge the organisers selected a location steeped in history and prestige. After touring from Brussels to Liège, Leuven and Antwerp, ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - The first weekend in September is highlighted in the diaries of many beer lovers, who head to the Grand Place in Brussels to find that great public space converted into one giant bar. ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - Thousands of tourists throng together at Brussels’ Grote Markt/Grand Place, one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The flamboyant city hall that dwarfs the surrounding buildings is ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - Open Sesame. I disappear through the archway of the imposing 'Brouwershuis', one of the architectural pearls of the Grand Marché in Brussels. This prestigious location – the Brewers’ House ... [ read more ]
BRUSSELS - The second Brussels Beer Challenge was an unqualified success for Belgian brewers. Sixty-eight Belgian breweries took part and they submitted 139 samples for tasting. Belgium was rewarded w ... [ read more ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
LEUVEN - The ritual is well established by now. Thousands of beer lovers from across the globe pour into the city of Leuven to enjoy the Zythos beer festival held annually at the last-but-one weekend in April. ... [ more ]
ROESELARE - The origins of Flanders Red Ale (Vlaams roodbruin bier as it is known in this part of Belgium) lie in the area around Roeselare and Kortrijk. These beers are a prime example of the noble art of ‘cutting’ (ble... [ more ]
BASECLES - You may not have heard of this little village, halfway between Tournai and Mons. Its former quarries are now filled with water where the black marble that adorns Cologne Cathedral was once hewn; ... [ more ]
MELLE - Alain De Laet, CEO and owner of Brouwerij Huyghe, is a firm believer in the power of the Belgian beer brand around the world. The success of the brewery speaks for itself, with Huyghe be... [ more ]
Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.