Stopping the supply of Russian gas: towards a shortage of beers in Germany?

Beer consumption in Germany resumed in the first half of the year after the sober period of Covid-19, but the specter of a gas supply stoppage now hangs over breweries which fear production stoppages.

“Without gas, supermarket shelves remain empty”warned Monday the federation of brewers, very dependent on this fossil fuel for production.

Impossible to measure the magnitude of the energy shock

The food industry is, after the chemical industry, the most gas-intensive sector, used in particular during malting, the first step in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages. After the drastic drop in consumption during the health crisis, demand for beer picked up: Germans drank 3.6 billion liters between January and June – a 6.4% increase over one year.

But exports fell by 19%, leading to a 3.8% drop in sales in the sector, according to the Federal Statistical Institute Destatis. Compared to 2019, before the impact of the pandemic, German breweries sold 5.5% less in the first half. “The beer industry continues to work in crisis mode”, warns Holger Eichele, president of the federation of brewers. It is today “impossible” to replace gas as the main source of energy and the magnitude of the energy shock “is not yet estimable”, he adds.

Several breweries have already raised their prices in response to rising production costs before the war in Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion, the prices of several raw materials, starting with cereals, have again soared. Suppliers to breweries whose production also depends on gas must also start with the manufacturers of the bottle glass.

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