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.”