Population changes are going to bring many cultural changes in their wake: and I’m not thinking only of immigration and multiculturalism here. Ageing populations will have different tastes and preferences, among them, apparently, will be changes in the quantity and types of alchohol consumed.
Among the explantations offered for the fact that the nation of beerdrinkers may soon no longer be one are the trend towards healthier living, economic problems (although that used to be thought to be a cause of raised consumption) and a deposit now payable on many cans and bottles. But there is no getting away from the fact that the big cause is changing demographics. Less young people means less beer. Now what else does it mean?
Germans drank less beer for a fourth straight year in 2003 as a new government deposit on cans and an aging population led to sales erosion at the nation’s 1,280 breweries, data showed on Monday. “Even the hottest summer in a century could not even out the slump in sales caused by political decisions,” said Erich Dederichs, a spokesman for the German Brewers’ Association, which represents around 90 percent of beermakers. Beer production fell 2.1 percent from the previous year, the eighth decline in the past decade, to 105.5 million hectoliters, from 107.8 million in 2002, the Federal Statistics Office said.
A hectoliter is 100 liters (22 Imperial gallons). Last year’s sales were enough to fill about 10,560 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
German beer production has been declining steadily since the mid-1990s, when breweries produced more than 115 million hectoliters a year. The country is still the third biggest consumer on a per capita basis, behind the Czech Republic and Ireland.
Brewers have said changing demographics are partly to blame for the drop in demand as fewer younger people in the German population means fewer beer drinkers.
They also blame the slide on the fact that drinkers must pay a 25-cent deposit for each throwaway can, a rule that came into effect in January 2003 to promote recycling. The effect of the law has been to virtually eliminate canned beer on the German market.
Over 80 per cent of Germany’s 5,000 brands of beer are now sold in reusable containers, with glass and plastic bottles replacing tins.
The production figures included a 9.1 percent increase in beer exports last year to 12.3 million hectoliters. Germany sold nine million hectoliters to its 14 European Union partners and 3.1 million hectoliters to countries outside the bloc.