Bar busts batter beer brewers

With over a thousand of the country's cafes and bars closing up shop in the last five years, local brewers have been hit particularly hard. The number of pubs in the country fell from 8,400 to 7,200, leaving brewers to battle it out for sales in a highly competitive market.

Just under four thousand bars have shutdown since 2001.

Beer purchases have been falling for years as more consumers have switched to wine, though the economic downturn also translated to customers buying fewer beverages in general, newspaper De Telegraaf reports.

Market leader Heineken saw the number of bars serving the name-brand beer drop by ten percent since 2008. The company now offers more competitive contracts to the entire hospitality industry, especially to hotels and catering companies.

Despite the difficult times in the Netherlands, Heineken is trading near its all-time high on the Amsterdam stock exchange. The company is undergoing an internal restructuring to refocus on the brewing and marketing of its beverages, while shedding non-core businesses.

The Dutch company announced plans on Monday to sell Mexican packaging firm Empaque to Crown Holdings in a $1.23 billion deal. Heineken acquired the Monterrey-based firm along with beer brands Dos Equis and Sol in 2010 in a $5.5 billion stock agreement. Empaque employs 1,500 people across Mexico primarily to produce bottles and cans.

It is not all bad domestically for Heineken. The brand is still the market leader in ten of twelve provinces, with Grolsch and Brand winning their home territories of Overijssel and Limburg, respectively. Smaller regional breweries Gulpener and Lion are also stealing market share in Limburg, while Germany's Warsteiner has taken five percent of cafes in Gelderland.