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September 28, 2022

CO2 supply crunch hits Germany’s bottled-water industry

There are reports of manufacturers cutting production amid lower supplies of the gas.

By Dean Best

Germany’s bottled-water industry is feeling the impact of reduced supplies of CO2, with some manufacturers cutting production.

Echoing comments made to Just Drinks last week by the country’s beer industry, the Genossenschaft Deutscher Brunnen (GDB) said the fall in the availability of the gas has hit output in the bottled-water category.

“The shortage is definitely hitting the production of some companies all over the country. We have reports of reduced production, as well as – very few – reports of discontinued production. Other companies report that they can continue production but have limited information about their next deliveries of CO2,” Tobias Bielenstein, the GDB’s director of public affairs, sustainability and communications, said.

High global energy prices, fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have led ammonia suppliers to curtail output, which in turn hits the manufacture of CO2 – a by-product of ammonia production. The gas is a key component in the production and distribution of beverages such as beer and bottled water. The supply crunch is having an impact on the sectors across Europe.

“We have a very mixed situation here,” Bielenstein told Just Drinks. ”While some mineral water fillers and soft drink producers are running out of CO2, a majority report a tense situation but still have limited supplies. All companies are highly alerted as this is a situation we have never experienced in the past. We know to handle shortages of CO2 as this occurred also in recent years but they were never on a scale like now.”

The GDB is the purchasing and service organisation of Germany’s bottled-water industry, with around 180 companies as members.

Bielenstein added: “For mineral water companies, there is no short-term solution to solve this issue. We as a cooperative and as an industry are working on alternative supplies. But this will need time. Most of the CO2 that was delivered to our industry was a by-product of fertiliser production. For the future, we will also look out for suppliers with alternative sources of CO2.”

Last week, Holger Eichele, the chief executive of the German Brewers Association (Deutscher Brauer-Bund), called on the country’s government to support the sector.

Bielenstein underlined that position. “Our current CO2 issue is part of the bigger problem of extremely high energy prices. Most German beverage producers – like most of the entire German industry – consist of SMEs. These companies are not prepared to handle such a crisis. While there are different political options to assist the industry there is no choice for the government but to support us as soon as possible.”

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