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FOOD & DRINK

As supplier costs rise, are cheap kebabs a thing of the past in Germany?

Grabbing a kebab, chips or a burger to take away from a snack bar is getting a lot pricier for customers across Germany as suppliers face significantly higher energy and food costs.

A kebab shop in Germany

It’s no longer unusual to pay five euros for a doner kebab, even in Berlin, as Imbissstuben (snack bars) are being forced to raise their prices, German news agency DPA reported.

According to data from the Federal Statistics Office, buying food or drink to take away was around six percent more expensive this March than a year earlier.

“A doner kebab should actually cost 7.30 euros,” Gürsel Ülber, chairman of the board of the Association of Turkish Doner Kebab Manufacturers in Europe, told DPA.

For a long time, kebabs cost around 3.50 euros in  Berlin. Now they’re priced at between five and six euros, which is how much customers in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg are already paying, Ülber explained, adding that he expected prices to increase further.

Across Germany, the snack bar industry has been hit by rising prices for energy and food.

The German Association of System Gastronomy, which represents chains such as Burger King and Nordsee, said that energy costs and price increases in raw materials, such as beef, were major price drivers, with companies having to pay more for everything, including flour and vegetables.

“Due to long-term contractual relationships, some of the price increases can be cushioned,” explained Andrea Belegante, general manager of the association.

‘Massive’ price rise
“But the current price trend means you have to check the prices of individual products carefully.” 

French fries may still be everywhere, but restaurateurs are finding it increasingly hard to get hold of vegetable oil, the German Hotel and Restaurant Association in Bavaria noted.

“Prices have risen massively,” regional manager Thomas Geppert told DPA.

According to a survey from last week, almost two thirds of companies in Bavaria complained about delivery bottlenecks.

These almost always related to vegetable oil, and in every second case to flour, too.

“No one could have expected something like this would happen after the pandemic,” said Geppert. 

Doner kebab manufacturer Ülber said: “It’s difficult to pass on the prices in full because of the competition.”

He is paying significantly more at slaughterhouses, but if he sells his skewers to snack bars at a higher price, they might choose to buy from other suppliers.

“The situation has been very difficult for about six months,” Ülber said, explaining that many companies were no longer making a profit.

He even thought it possible that Germany could see the first doner kebab shops closing in two to three months. For others, he said costs would go up further in autumn at the latest – due to the increase in the minimum wage to twelve euros per hour.

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FOOD & DRINK

5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

It's that time of year again when the delicious German drink Glühwein will be on sale at Christmas Markets and in bars all over the country. Here's what you need to know about the traditional winter beverage.

5 things you need to know about German Glühwein

1. It existed before Christmas Markets

Nowadays, sipping a hot mug of Glühwein is mostly associated with a visit to a traditional German Christmas market, which might make you think that it was an invention of wine stand operators.

However, though German Christmas markets have been around for nearly 600 years, some form of mulled wine has been a popular winter beverage since Roman times.

READ ALSO: Where are Christmas markets around Germany already opening?

The Romans had their own special recipe for Glühwein which combined wine with honey and spices such as pepper, bay leaf, saffron and dates.

The oldest documented consumption of Glühwein in Germany can be traced back to Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen, a German nobleman who was the first grower of Riesling grapes in the 15th century. Archaeologists found a special silver plated cup dating from 1420 which he used to sip the sweet and spicy drink.

2. Don’t overstep the 80C mark

When making your own batch of Glühwein at home – you’ll want to make sure that your ingredients – wine (red or white), sugar, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, orange and star anise – are simmering away at a temperature of no more than 80C.

Aromatic spices give Glühwein its special flavour. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | DWI

Above 80C the alcohol evaporates, which is detrimental to the taste and causes the sugar to degrade. The ideal temperature for your Glühwein is between 72C and 73C and the perfect colour is a deep red. 

3. It literally means ‘Glow wine’

The Glüh part of the word for this drink – which sounds a bit like the English word “glue” – comes from the German verb glühen meaning “to glow”.

The origin of the word Glühwein goes back hundreds of years when hot irons were used to heat the wine. It might help you to remember the meaning of the word by looking at the glowing cheeks of your friends while drinking a cup of the hot alcoholic drink.

READ ALSO: What’s the history behind Germany’s beloved Christmas markets?

4. You can make it without alcohol (or with even more)

To make a non-alcoholic version of Glühwein – or Kinderpunsch (children’s punch) as it’s commonly referred to in German – you can replace the wine with a mixture of fruit tea, apple and orange juice. 

Children’s punch cups with the motif “Moppi” from the children’s TV show Sandmännchen at a stand of the Leipzig Christmas market. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Sebastian Willnow

If you want to go the other way and make a Glühwein mit Schuss (mulled wine with a shot), you can add a dash of rum or amaretto to your cup full of Glühwein just before drinking. 

5. Glühwein makes you merry faster

Alcoholic hot drinks get you drunk faster, as their high temperature ensures that the alcohol enters the bloodstream more quickly and easily. Sugar also promotes alcohol absorption, so a cup of mulled wine will go to your head much more quickly than a glass of normal wine.

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