Sales of beer in Germany dropped 2.9% in the first six months of 2023 as the industry remains off pace with pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the country’s Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

German breweries sold around 4.2 billion litres of beer in the first half of the year, which does not include non-alcoholic beer, malt drinks nor imported beer from countries outside the EU.

Eighty-two per cent of beer sales were intended for domestic consumption, which marked a drop of 3.5% compared to the first half of 2022, hitting 3.4bn litres.

Destatis added that beer sales in the opening six months of this year were 12.2% lower than the first half of 2014, indicating a long-term downward trend.

There was also a decline in beer mixes – beer mixed with juices or other non-alcoholic beverages. Compared to the first half of 2022, 8.6% fewer beer mixes were sold. At 211.1m litres, however, they accounted for only 5% of total beer sales.

Germany’s Brewers Association (DBB) said the cool and unpredictable weather in spring, combined with “consumer reluctance to buy” beer, were pivotal to the declining sales figures.

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By GlobalData

DBB general manager Holger Eichele said: “For the 1,500 mostly artisanal and medium-sized breweries in Germany, 2023 will be another extremely challenging year.

“The exploding costs since the beginning of the pandemic are a massive burden for companies, especially since they can only pass on a small part of the cost increases to the food trade and gastronomy in the form of price increases.”

The beer trade body said “it will be years before the breweries can hope for a recovery in terms of cost pressure and the economy, and the enormous geopolitical risks cannot be overlooked”.

It added: “Nevertheless, it should be noted that German breweries have proven to be resilient overall over the past three years and that most companies have been able to hold their own on the market despite the ongoing crises.”

Eichele also said Germany’s non-alcoholic beer sector was showing more promise, which was shown in another recent Destatis report.

In 2022, 474m litres of non-alcoholic beer worth around €396m ($434m) were produced in Germany, marking a jump in production of 96% in the last decade.