Germany faces beer shortage

'Will there be enough beer?" cries newspaper headline

Dec 19, 2002 - The possibility of a beer shortage in Germany reached such concern Thursday that one leading selling newspaper asked "Will there about enough beer?" in a large headline on the front page.


The crunch, which will begin to be felt next month, is the result of new government regulations restricting deposits of disposable cans and bottles. They take effect in January. The government is imposing charges on non-reusable containers because it says the percentage of recycled cans and bottles has fallen below a 72% minimum target set in 1997.

Retailers say it may mean there may not be enough beer in shops. "We may not have enough beer available to meet the demand in January," Jan Holzweissig, spokesman for the German retailers' association, Reuters News Service reported. "A lot of stores are planning to remove beer and other drinks in disposable containers off their shelves next month because of the new rules."

The government is introducing a deposit of 25 cents in January for small non-refillable cans and bottles, and 50 cents for larger containers. Deposits will be returned when the bottles and cans are returned.

Although consumption of beer has slipped in recent year, it remains an important part of the German culture and economy. The country has about 1,200 breweries, and Germans drink a per capita average of about 123 liter (27 gallons) of beer annually, ranking them only just behind the Czech Republic and Ireland.

The Aldi supermarket chain, a market leader in the discount sector, said they were planning to stop selling non-reusable bottles and cans altogether. "Until a reasonable solution to this problem is found, we're not going to sell any more drinks in non-returnable cans or bottles," an Aldi spokeswoman said.

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