Trade draws the line at beer diversity

Country, cellar and craft beer – with more and more new varieties, brewers are trying to make their beer palatable to germans again. Because for the last 30 years the demand has been decreasing.

"There are currently more than 1,400 breweries and over 6,000 beer brands in germany, and the number is growing from month to month," says holger eichele, chief executive officer of the german brewers’ association. But now the trade seems to have had enough. "Not everything can go on the shelf. There will probably be a consolidation in the near future," says marcus strobl, beer expert at market researcher nielsen.

German brewers sold one percent less beer domestically in the first half of the year, and exports fell by as much as six percent, according to the federal statistical office. "Wheat, pilsner and export are losing market share – light and specialty beers are gaining," says strobl. "Consumers are buying less beer overall, but they’re hungry for something new."

In the german trade, pilsner still accounts for 54 percent of sales in the first half of the year, but only 49 percent of the turnover. The customer always finds a brand that is being sold at a special price of around 10 euros per case, says strobl. Even classic pilsner brands are barely managing to raise prices. "Wheat, pale, non-alcoholic, radler – everything is more expensive than pilsner. This development is fatal." Now some breweries have announced price increases for next year. However, there were already several unsuccessful starts. "I’m curious," says strobl.

On the other hand, many consumers are prepared to pay more than 15 euros for a case of beer – for example, for pale or specialty beers. That’s why many coarse and also regional breweries have greatly expanded their offerings. Demand for non-alcoholic beers is increasing, and the range has grown to more than 400 brands, as eichele says. In addition, there are hundreds of craft beer brands that also want to enter the trade – even if their market share is less than 1 percent.

The variety on the beer market is increasing: "that’s a nice development for the consumer, who now has a huge selection," says strobl. But the trade has to see how it can accommodate the growing supply. And even for breweries, not every variety is worthwhile, sometimes with bucket closures and special bottles. "At some point, the score will be settled," says the market researcher: "we are already observing that the number of beer mix products in the trade is declining."

At munich’s oktoberfest, the mab currently costs up to 10.95 euros. Also over the year, the people of upper bavaria pay the most for a liter of beer – according to nielsen, an average of 1.49 euros. In the dresden region, on the other hand, the average liter costs 1.07 euros.

The average bundesburger drank 104 liters of beer last year. "Due to demographic developments and growing competitive pressure alone, breweries will have to adjust to declining sales figures in the coming years," says eichele.

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