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Sunny weather puts a head on flat beer industry figures

The Local · 23 Apr 2011, 12:52

Published: 23 Apr 2011 12:52 GMT+02:00

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Yet as the industry marks the anniversary of the German purity law which dictates the ingredients of beer, not all is as happy in the country's breweries as the crowded beer gardens might suggest.

The mid and long-term looks decidedly flat for many of Germany’s 1,325 breweries, according to Peter Hahn, manger of the German Brewers’ Association.

“The super weather shows us once again that the sun god is our best seller,” he said.

Although the start of this year was great for many brewers, he said the industry expected a further slight drop in turnover of between 1 and 1.5 percent for the year as a whole.

Only a particularly good year weather-wise would enable the industry to reach last year’s figures, bucking a continual, linear decline in sales.

“Less beer is needed all the time,” said Rudolf Böhlke, beer expert at consultancy Ernst & Young.

He said this was linked to the slight drop in Germany’s population, and its increasing average age. “The older we get, the less we drink,” he said.

The winners of the situation are the largest breweries, which can pay for advertising, innovation and takeovers – and the very small businesses which have a loyal customer-base, he said.

Alcohol-free beers and mixes are just two of the initiatives currently being seized upon as possible ways to stave off turnover droop.

Yet takeovers also seem to be on the cards. “They are overdue actually,” said Albert Christmann, head of the Radeberger Group, the German market leader.

The opposing pressures of increased competition and increased costs on the one side, and falling prices on the other, are making things very difficult for some breweries.

“Some participants are already hanging by a thread,” said Christmann.

Story continues below…

Rumours abound of a possible large takeover, the whisper being that Radeberger Group, which has more than 40 brands including Radeberger, Jever and Schöfferhofer, could takeover the German business of Carlsberg, which owns Holsten and Lübzer.

The price war between breweries meanwhile continues unabated, with the customer happily slurping up the results – including more than half the premium beer in Germany being sold in special offers.

An unexpectedly negative consequence for the industry of the purity law is that no beer is really bad, said Böhlke, which leaves only the price for companies to fight with.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:20 April 23, 2011 by catjones
Reason for declining sales is choice: there's three beers: pils, wheat, dark. The so-called purity law is a joke.
15:42 April 23, 2011 by OkieinBerlin
catjones, there are plenty of fine German beers around -- at least here in Berlin. You just have to look a little harder to find something better than what is advertised on television. And what's your beef with the purity law?
17:35 April 23, 2011 by jmclewis
I wish I was there with a beer!
17:41 April 23, 2011 by catjones
@ OkieinBerlin...German beers are no more 'pure' than any other country's beers.

Nobody said German beers weren't good, just limited. If I want a great pils, I buy Czech, German for wheat, Guinness for dark. Pure enough for me.
14:36 April 24, 2011 by Englishted
catjones,you don't know much about beer ,lots of countries in Europe allow brewers to use chemicals ,the lager in the U.K. has no natural things in it at all.

However " Pure enough for me." is pure and simple.
15:43 April 25, 2011 by Al uk
Englishted is correct the lager beer in the UK is terrible and unless you buy the imported stuff is worth avoiding.

The real ale however is top notch and we have loads of choice here.
05:02 April 26, 2011 by jihao
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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