German beer sales down 2.9%

January 29th, 2008 | Posted by Real Beer

Germany’s beer consumption has dropped to the lowest level since the government began collecting statistics in 1993.

Beer consumption in Europe’s largest economy fell 3.7 percent (in 2007) to 88.5 million hectoliters, the lowest since the Federal Statistics office, based in Wiesbaden, started collecting figures excluding non-alcoholic beer in 1993, a report showed today.

“Beer consumption is dependent on the weather and also tends to peak when we have special events,” Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, a spokesman for the Brauer-Bund brewery association in Berlin, said in an interview. “Our industry hopes for a long, hot summer and that the German soccer team will do really well in the European soccer championship this year.”

Beer sales have also been declining in the past decade as more and more Germans switch to lighter or non-alcoholic beverages, the group said. German brewers sold 2.9 percent less beer last year, the biggest drop since 1998, the report said.

One story suggest that microbreweries and brewpubs could help reverse the trend.

Berlin’s Oliver Lemke, who owns four small breweries, said the overall slump reflects the destruction of small local breweries by big corporations.

“There used to be 100 breweries in this neighborhood alone,” Lemke said. “They died out in the 1970s with the trend toward mono-breweries. The big breweries – for example Warsteiner or Licher – said: ‘We’re only going to make one sort of beer, a premium pilsner, and we’ll market it nationwide.’ And that inevitably leads to a dead-end. At some point, even the world’s biggest idiot notices that there’s virtually no difference between a Warsteiner and Licher.”

The story has a familiar ring to it: “It’s difficult for independents to break through against the conglomerates. The big brewing companies control distribution networks and encourage pub owners to feature their products exclusively by offering loans, price rebates and free tapping and refrigeration systems, beer glasses and even ashtrays.”

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3 Responses to “German beer sales down 2.9%”

  1. Ed Garrard Says:

    I think it’s time for my fellow Americans and me to revive and modernize the Marshall Plan. Let’s all pledge to increase our consumption of German beer by six bottles a week. Let every day feel like Oktoberfest! We can help get the fine German brewers through this slump. I’ll do my part. Will you do yours? Forget war bonds. Buy beer!

  2. Matthew Cain Says:

    Well I am currently here in Germany with the military and let me tell you it’s a joke. It’s like Bitburger threw up on the entire country. I’ll tell you why beer sales are down. There are only two kinds of beer abailable. Heviwisen, wich is fine, and Bitburger. That’s right not pils but Bitburger. Even the locals will contest that Bitburger is awful even for a bitter German beer. The company has gone to ridiculous lengths to make sure you know who they are. There is not one single pub in the country that does not sell Bittburger not to mention every ash tray, glass, and neon sign you will see in the country, you geussed it, Bittburger. I am longing for some good old Shiner Bock right about now. I was here four years ago and you could get a good German pils in any pub. Now it’s like swiming in a see of Natie Light. I hope the German people wake up before it’s too late and they change the name of the country to Bitburgerland.

  3. Scott Says:

    Saint Pauli Girl is a great staple beer to have as backup when the more special brews run out… light or dark!

    And I’m not sure about the BitBurger reference, it’s not as bad as a Bud! Then again I haven’t been there for almost 10 years, so I can’t be sure. Basically, their craft beer industry really needs to put it in gear! If they can fix the laws for VW then surely another national icon like beer can be supported.