French beer consumption slumped by 8.2% in the first quarter of 2008, according to estimates from brewers trade association Les Brasseurs de France.

The association said today (24 June) that the decline was probably due to a ban on smoking in public places, introduced in France at the start of the year, and cold weather. On this latter point, it added that a temperature change of one degree C can trigger a 3 to 4% variation in consumption levels.

In 2007, as a whole, French consumption was down by 3.3% in volume on the previous year but remained stable in value at EUR12.5bn (US$24.63bn). Last year, only speciality and top of the range beers, representing 46% of the market, showed growth. Traditional light ales fell 9% in volume and 5% in value.