Decline in sales

Germans had less beer thirst in 2019

Annual beer sales in Germany have fallen by more than two million hectolitres, which is equivalent in purely arithmetical terms to the production of a large brewery. There are several reasons for this decline.

The heat and the football World Cup still drove up the German beer thirst in 2018, but for the current year the industry expects a significant drop in sales figures. According to the Federal Statistical Office, beer sales dropped by 2.5 percent to 85.2 million hectoliters by the end of November 2019.

Despite a solid Christmas business, industry experts do not believe that it was possible to make up for the minus by the end of December. “Even though business was still developing positively in December, beer sales will probably be down by about two percent by the end of the year,” says Holger Eichele, the Chief Executive of the German Brewers’ Association.

As in the whole of Europe, beer consumption in Germany has been declining for years, especially due to the aging society. “After the very good summer of 2018, the actually not so bad summer of 2019 was not good enough to compensate for factors such as demographics,” said Niklas Other, editor of the trade magazine “Inside”.

Almost 7000 beer brands in Germany

“Nevertheless, the German brewers are looking optimistically into the new year, which will once again feature an important sporting event with the European Football Championship,” Eichele explains. “What will continue to grow in 2020 is the number of breweries in Germany and the number of beer brands approaching the 7000 mark”. Pils remains the most popular variety with a market share of more than 50 percent, but light beers and regional specialties are growing.

Alcohol-free beers and non-alcoholic mixed beer drinks have also been increasingly popular for years, and according to Eichele, they are aiming for a market share of ten percent. They were not taken into account in the current statistics. However, industry experts assume that the rising sales figures for non-alcoholic beverages will not be able to make up for the decline in alcoholic beer in 2019.

“We are talking about more than 2.2 million hectolitres,” said the spokesman for the Veltins Brewery, Ulrich Biene, with regard to the drop in sales. “This is a large brewery, if you like.” However, the industry will recoup a portion of the hectoliters through the European Championship, the company spokesman also believes.

In August 2019 alone, beer sales had slumped by 11.4 percent compared to the previous year – the biggest drop in sales of alcoholic beer in about three years. According to the latest data from the Federal Statistical Office, sales in November fell by 5.8 percent to 6.66 million hectoliters.

The year 2018 had ended a long lasting downward trend. At that time the beer sales of German breweries had increased minimally by 0.5 percent.