German beer sales continue to slide during first half of 2021
Germany | Beer sales dropped 2.7 percent or 1.1 million hl in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. As the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reported on 30 July 2021, German breweries sold around 42 million hl beer in the first half of 2021.
The figure excludes non-alcoholic beers and malt drinks, as well as beer imported from countries outside the European Union (EU). Compared with the first half of 2019, our last “normal” year, that is a loss of about 4 million hl beer.
The bulk of beer production (80.4 percent) was intended for domestic consumption and was taxed. Domestic sales fell by 4.9 percent to 33 million hl compared to the first six months of 2020. The remaining 19.6 percent, or 8.2 million hl, were sold tax-free as exports and as so-called house drinks. That was 7.7 percent more than in the previous year. Of this, 3.8 million hl beer (+3.5 percent) were shipped to EU countries, 4.3 million hl (+11.9 percent) to non-EU countries and 55,000 hl (-5.2 percent) were distributed as a house drink to brewery employees.
Most likely, domestic beer sales would have performed worse overall, had not German brewers resorted to sell 75 percent of their beer on promotion in 2020 already, up from 72 percent in 2018. This year too, punters would have had no trouble finding a crate of beer (10 litres) on promotion for about EUR 10 (USD 11.80).
In the case of beer mixes – beer mixed with lemonade, cola, fruit juices and other non-alcoholic beverages – Germany saw an increase of 8.4 percent in the first six months of 2021 over 2020. At 2.4 million hl, however, they only represented 5.7 percent of total beer sales.
Beer sales declined sharply during the coronavirus crisis
The closure of restaurants, bars and hotels between November 2020 and May 2021 resulted in a sharp decline in beer sales, especially in January (-27.0 percent) and February (-19.1 percent). After restrictions were eased again in the hospitality industry, beer sales recovered. In June, 11.2 percent more beer was sold than in the same month of 2020.
From a long-term perspective, beer sales in Germany have been falling continuously for decades.
A Beck’s promotion in August 2021: 10 litres for EUR 10.49 (Photo: BRAUWELT International)