Beer sales in Germany rose slightly in the first half of this year, according to statistics released yesterday. While exports grew, consumption at home declined, however.

Figures released by the government's Federal Statistics Office show that beer sales by volume for the six-month period increased by 0.6% year-on-year to 5.18 bln litres, thanks primarily to a 16.4% increase in the relatively small amount of German beer destined for other EU countries. Sales of beer in Germany, which accounts for 87% of total production, however, fell by 1.4 % to 4.5 bln litres.

Even the traditional free beer consumed by employees at the country's 1,200 breweries, known as "Haustrunk" in German, also fell, by 3.4% to 10.4 m litres. Haustrunk is counted separately by the government as it is not taxed.

Beer consumption in Germany has been falling steadily since 1995, due in part to an increasingly health-conscious public and a sluggish economy.