Czech brewer Budvar Hits Record as People Drink More at Home

budvar czech prodcution

Budvar, the Czech brewer that has been in a long legal dispute with U.S. giant Anheuser-Busch’s overuse of the “Budweiser” brand, increased output to a record last year when the pandemic saw people drink less in bars and more at home.

Budejovicky Budvar NP, a 125-year-old state-owned brewery, said Thursday that its output rose 3% to 1.73 million hectoliters in 2020.

The brewer´s exports were up almost 3.5% last year, director Petr Dvorak said.

Budvar sells its beer in some 80 countries and Germany, one of its key markets, grew particularly strongly in 2020. Revenues also hit a record last year, growing 1% from 2.8 billion CZK in 2019. It did not release profit figures.

Demand for its beer in tanks and barrels declined last year as bars and restaurants were closed for a long time but Budvar was able to meet rising demand for bottled beer, it said.

The brewer has been expanding in recent years to be able to produce over 2 billion hectoliters of beer a year. That investment made it possible to react to “dramatic” changes on the markets amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Budweiser Budvar is the fourth largest beer producer in the Czech Republic and the second-largest exporter of beer abroad.

The dispute

Budweiser Budvar Brewery and the American brewery Anheuser-Busch have been engaged in an ongoing trademark dispute over the name Budweiser since the start of the 20th century.

In 1939, only one week before the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Budweiser Budvar agreed to concede exclusive rights to the American brewery in the United States area. During World War II and the Cold War, Budweiser Budvar was unable to compete with then-independent Anheuser-Busch.

In 1994, the then CEO of Budweiser Budvar Jiří Boček decided not to sign a trademark agreement with the American brewery to divide their territory across the world. On 29 July 2010, Anheuser-Busch lost its last-instance appeal in the European Court of Justice, meaning it may not register the name Budweiser as a European Union trademark for beer.

Due to the trademark dispute, Budweiser Budvar beer is imported as Czechvar in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Philippines and the United States and Anheuser-Busch sells its beer as Bud in most of the European Union.

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