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German lose thirst for beer in tough economic times

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German lose thirst for beer in tough economic times
Glass half empty Photo: DPA
10:23 CET+01:00
The average German drank two litres less beer last year than in 2007, putting the breweries into a funk, with sales from 2008 two percent down from the previous year, the brewers’ association reports.

Talking to Die Welt Peter Hahn from the association said, “The Germans’ desire for beer is continuing to fall.”

Average consumption fell to 109.2 litres in 2008, down 2.2 litres on 2007.

He said a combination of an ageing population, changing drinking habits among younger people and the smoking ban which hit pubs and bars, had led to a one percentage drop in beer sales by October.

The global financial crisis then hit hard in the last quarter, accounting for a further full percentage point decline.

Ulrich Biene from Veltins brewery, told the paper, “The market has really been significantly down over the last few weeks, because the consumers have simply done without.”

The market is not expected to perk up this year either, says Hahn. “For 2009 I am pessimistic for the entire market,” he said, predicting an annual decline in the market of up to two percent.

“The times when each German was drinking more than 150 litres of beer like in the middle of the 1970s are definitely over,” he said.

He said such a continual drop in sales would lead to a consolidation of the market with smaller companies being bought up by larger ones.

Prices were likely to remain stable for consumers he said.

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