German brewers fear business going flat as gas crisis looms

High cost of energy

In this file photo, beer bottles on a conveyor belt are pictured at a bottling plant in Grevenstein, western Germany.  A looming energy crisis is likely to impede the beer industry in Germany.

Photo credit: AFP

The soaring cost of energy and the threat that Russia could cut gas supplies to Germany risks worsening beer makers' post-coronavirus hangover, the German Brewers Federation said Monday.

Having limped through the pandemic, the "German beer industry is still working in crisis mode", brewing federation boss Holger Eichele said.

German brewers sold 157.2 million litres of the amber liquid over the first six months of the year, a 3.8 percent annual increase, according to figures published by the federal statistics office Destatis on Monday.

But despite the improvement, the first-half figure was still 5.5 percent below its pre-crisis level of 2019.

A looming energy crisis in Germany left little hope of a further improvement in sales in the second half of the year, according to the German Brewers Federation.

Energy prices have soared as Russia has dwindled supplies of natural gas to Germany and prompted fears of an acute shortage were it to cut off supplies completely.

"Without gas, the shelves will be empty," Eichele said.

The scale of the energy crisis and its impact "can only be guessed at", he added.

Brewers had endeavoured in recent years to reduce their energy usage, but it was currently "impossible" to replace gas as the most important source for the industry, Eichele said.

Energy-intensive

According to the federation, the food and drink industry is the largest consumer of gas in Germany behind the chemicals industry.

Brewing involves a number of energy-intensive processes from roasting the malt to heating the brewing tanks.

The rising cost of energy is also passed on through suppliers, such as the producers of glass bottles.

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