(AGI) Rome, Feb. 23 - (Silvia Inghirami) Exports of Italian beer have tripled over the past ten years and rose further in 2015. The sector now aims to conquer Asian markets. The director of branch organisation Assobirra, Filippo Terzaghi, explained the situation to AGI. According to the association, Italy sold around 210 million litres of beer abroad in 2015, a substantial rise from the 191 million in 2014. According to the latest figures, 1.67 million hectolitres were exported to Europe, accounting for 76.2 percent of total exports, eight percentage points more than in 2013. Most Italian beer went to Great Britain (over 1 million hectolitres), followed by the Netherlands (115,000), France (90,000) and Germany (33,000). Outside the EU, 162,000 hectolitres were exported to the U.S. and over 40,000 to Australia. This growth was in part the result of acquisitions that have opened the extensive distribution network of large international groups to Italian beers. Italian brewers also owed their success to the popularity of Italian food abroad, with groups like Eataly. A third element that boosted sales was the boom in craft and special beers, a phenomenon that started in the 1980s in the U.S. and spread in the 1990s to Europe, where it really took off in Italy in 2007 and 2008. Thanks to their quality, Italian beers also managed to penetrate markets with a centuries old beer tradition, Terzaghi explained. Some 50 percent of exports went to Britain and demand from the U.S., Canada and Denmark is rising steadily. A substantial amount goes to Brazil, while sanctions and the economic crisis have affected sales in Russia. Sales of Italian craft beers in the Far East are also booming. Assobirra has organised several trade missions to China in recent years and this year, several small Italian producers will present themselves at events and fairs in Japan and Thailand. Consumption is rising in Asia, South America and Africa, and falling in the West, said Terzaghi. But niche and quality products are in demand everywhere. "It is true that 95 to 97 percent of Italian beer is produced by 13 large plants. But there are some 700 small producers who have good growth prospects. These are the ones we want to help export their products," Terzaghi continued. He announced that this year the Italian Beer Export Guide will be available as an app. The guide was developed by the association, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development, the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, Italian export credit agency SACE, Easyfrontier, the Centre of Excellence for Research on Beer, Brewers of Europe, the Italian Trade Agency (ICE), Banco Popolare and law firm Alessandro Artom. The same parties are also preparing to offer companies practical and real services for exports, said Terzaghi. (AGI). .