Russians need malt, hops

Lack of ingredients may slow brewing growth

May 18, 2000 - A lack of ingredients for making beer threatens to slow the fast-growing Russian brewing industry.


"There is still a large space for expansion because the average annual beer consumption is still very low at about 30 liters per capita, compared with 165 liters in the Czech republic. But further expansion is impossible unless we restore the domestic supply of barley and hops," said Vyacheslav Mamontov, Executive Secretary of the Russian Union of Beer and Non-Alcoholic Drinks Producers.

Beer production rose 33% last year and is up more than three-fold since 1995.

Domestic brewers got a boost in 1998 when a financial crisis halted imports. Imported beers accounted for 24% of sales before then, just 1% since. However, Russia imports about 70% of its malt needs and almost all of its hops. Estimates are tha the cost of beer would drop 20% were domestic ingredients used, and beer sales would benefit.

"There was a dramatic fall in beer production in first half the 1990s and farmers stopped producing hops and good barley because there was no market for this," Mamontov said.

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