Germany - beer sales are down smoking ban maybe partial blame..

August 3, 2009 - New data released this week by the Federal Statistics Office showed that sales of beer from January 2009 to June 2009 dropped to their lowest level since the office began keeping track of the numbers back in 1991.

German breweries sold 49,3 million hectoliters (1.1 billion gallons) of beer in the first half of the year. That's down 4.5 percent on the same period last year.

Statistics Office said: "In addition to the weather conditions, the current increases in beer prices and the ban on smoking in restaurants and so on had an essential impact on the trend in beer sales."

Breweries across the country say they don't dare raise prices in an attempt to make up for the lost revenue for fear of ruining sales.

Michael Weiss, vice president of the Federation of German Brewers, told German news agency dpa that it was the worst decline in the industry's modern history. The Czech Republic overtook Germany in per-capita beer consumption years ago.

The Veltins brewery said German beer consumption declined more than five percent in annual terms in the first half of the year, with higher-priced brands like its own worst affected.

Among the premium German brands, Veltins, Warsteiner, Bitburger and Jever reported slumps ranging from 4.6 to 7 per cent. Veltins did not expect any revival till 2012.

Beer sales have been sliding for years. Beer has gradually fallen out of fashion in Germany as people switch to healthy drinks or to other alcoholic beverages such as wine.

Reference: German beer sales slump to a record low, Editor: Sonia Phalnikar, Deutsche Welle, 8/1/2009.

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