Euros & Olympics: How the F&B industry is gearing up for a summer of sport

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If you’re a sports fan, then you’ll be preparing for a summer packed full of entertainment, excitement, and some serious nerves… dare I utter the word, penalties?! 2024 is spoiling us, with not one but two major sporting events in Europe, with Euro 2024 kicking off (pun intended) in Germany on the 14th​ of June and the Paris Olympics taking the starting gun (yep, that one was intended too) on the 26th​ of July.

But while sports fans are preparing the perfect viewing schedule, food and beverage manufacturers are preparing the perfect drinks and snacks to sustain them. So, what will sports fans be eating and drinking this summer and what foodie trends are already emerging?

What will fans be eating and drinking at Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics?

Well, the first thing we can be certain of is that many fans will be enjoying a drink during the events, and those drinks will often be alcoholic.

In fact, a study by electronic payment firm, Takepayments, has found that in the UK alone, consumers are estimated to drink 604.5 million pints of beer during the 33-day Euro 2024 tournament, with 18,000 pints forecast to be drunk per day. This is a hugely lucrative opportunity for beverage manufacturers as the total expenditure on beer during the Euros could exceed £2.4 billion in the UK alone.

“Sports tournaments, like the Euros, can be incredibly exciting and have the potential to grab the attention of the whole nation,” said Jodie Wilkinson, head of strategic partnerships at Takepayments. “Our data shows that these events can help give our economy a much-needed boost which is fantastic to see.”

And brands have been quick to get involved, in order to benefit from the ‘sports effect’.

“As the world’s most popular sport, actively followed by 67% of Europeans, millions of people will come together over their shared love of the game,” a spokesperson for Unilever, told FoodNavigator. “It is anticipated that UEFA Euro 2024 will attract a cumulative live audience of 5 billion people worldwide, offering a unique opportunity to connect our brands to a highly engaged audience and build brand power, while supporting future generations of athletes.”

Sporting event - three women - GettyImages-franckreporter

Football fans are getting ready for a big summer of sport, starting with Euro 2024, in Germany. GettyImages/franckreporter

So why do fans tend to grab an alcoholic drink while watching sporting events?

“Major sporting events are about much more than just what happens on the field,” explains Christina Gough, research expert on sports and video gaming, at business intelligence platform, Statista. “Thousands of fans gather in stadiums and millions more watch back home with friends and family. As a result, the alcohol is often flowing during these sporting events as a way or enjoying the spectacle or even calming matchday nerves.”

But it’s not just alcoholic drinks brands that see an uptick in sales during sporting events; sales of soft drinks are also expected to rise. This rise will be, in part, due to convenience during the events but also a result of dedicated marketing campaigns from beverage brands.

International beverage giant, Coca-Cola​, has joined Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics as an official sponsor, acutely aware of the marketing potential of such large events. In fact, Coca-Cola sponsored the Amsterdam Olympics in 1928, and has supported every Olympic games since, making it the longest continuous relationship between a brand and the Olympic Movement.

Furthermore, the official sponsor for the Paris Olympics is, in fact, non-alcoholic beer brand, AB Bev​. The Belgian brand is ramping up marketing of its non-alcoholic offerings through this new partnership with the International Olympic Committee (OIC). From 2024 through to 2028, Corona Cero zero alcohol will be the official beer of the Olympics Games.

On the food side, the fact the event is taking place during Europe’s summer will play a major role in what Europeans eat while watching the games.

“The enjoyment of food plays such an important role in how we come together with friends and family over sporting events, whether we’re watching together with thousands of others in stadia or cheering from the comforts of home,” Peter Dekkers, nutrition general manager in Europe for Unilever, told FoodNavigator.

Unilever, an official partner for Euro 2024, has also launched the ‘Up Your Game’ campaign, encouraging people to celebrate in their workplace with foods from the newly-created ‘matchday menus’.

And brands aren’t just focusing on boosting sales during the events, they’re also encouraging consumers to get involved in the lead up to the event, with competitions launched to capitalise on sports-fan fever.

Paris Olympics - Image credit - Paris 2024

The City of Lights will play host to the Olympics this summer. Image credit: Paris 2024

How are brands boosting sales in the lead-up to Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics?

Event partners and sponsors have been keen to help drum-up excitement and support for the upcoming summer of sports, launching everything from limited-edition products to competitions to win tickets.

“The focus of our commitment as an official national sponsor of UEFA Euro 2024 is a ticket promotion,” Dr. Ingo Stryck, head of marketing at PHW-Group, told FoodNavigator. “We are giving away around 1,000 tickets to consumers, around two thirds are through our biggest on-pack promotion, which we are running on all branded Wiesenhof, Bruzzzler and plant-based Green Legend products. In addition to this, there are also special collaborations with selected retail partners, and we are also running competitions and prize raffles on our social media channels.”

How is sustainability playing a role in food and beverage trends at Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics?

The importance of sustainability is becoming widely acknowledged, particularly in the planning and execution of major events, such as Euro 2024 and the Paris Olympics.

“Sustainability and environmental impact is now a big issue for major spectator sport events,” says David Walmsley, research analyst for market intelligence agency, Mintel.

And part of the reason for this is the consumer demand for it, with figures from Mintel showing that 60% of all sports fans believe sports events should be more sustainable. This is particularly true amongst younger consumers.

“The funding, resource and expertise of commercial partners should be part of these efforts and will be rewarded by increased favourability among the younger audiences,” adds Walmsley.

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