Germans enjoy beer price war

Retailers clear out stock, lower prices to 5 center per can

Dec 23, 2002 - Germans faced with a beer shortage in January are enjoying a curious side benefit now -- cheap beer.


"Germany foams over with joy!" proclaimed one newspaper, the Bild. "Everyone's buying cheap beer." Beer was selling for as little as five cents a can as shops tried to clear stocks ahead of charges that go into effect Jan. 1 to discourage throw-away contrainers.

"Beer price war!" wrote Berlin's B.Z. tabloid on Saturday. "Discounters are chucking out everything they've got. At this rate beer will be given away for free by Christmas."

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. Drinkers will have to bring their empties back to the shop to get their deposits. But shops say they don't have any room to store the empty cans and bottles, so are selling their stocks now at discount prices.

They say that means theree may not be enough beer to sell. "We may not have enough beer available to meet the demand in January," Jan Holzweissig, spokesman for the German retailers' association. "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."

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