The German Brewers’ Association recorded a two-per cent annual decline in sales to a total of 94 million hectoliters.
The organization attributed the negative development to a combination of rainy weather in Germany during the summer and autumn, which kept visitors away from the country’s traditional beer gardens, and a fall in international exports.
Nevertheless, the industry body expressed cautious optimism about the future of brewing in Germany.
“The number of breweries in Germany and the diversity of beers will continue to grow in the next years, not least thanks to the craft-movement,” a statement by the Association president Joerg Lehmann read.
In the near-term, Lehmann said that many brewers were pinning their hopes with view to 2018 on an increase in beer consumption during the football world cup in Russia.
He noted the “positive” development of demand for alcohol-free beers which were not included in the statistics.
The brewing industry magazine “Inside” questioned, however, whether low unit prices currently offered in German retail could be offered by producers in light of growing commercial pressure on their operations.
Niklas Other, publisher of “Inside”, pointed out that several large brewers had already announced that they would raise their prices in the coming weeks.
Some breweries, such as Krombacher and Veltins, were able to grow their sales in 2017 in spite of the challenging market environment.
An independent analysis of industry development during the past year by Veltins put the overall decline of sales at an even higher rate of 2.5 per cent.
The company forecast that beer consumption in Germany would continue to fall on account of an aging population and changing tastes, leading to a painful industry consolidation.
Ganiyu Obaaro, with Agency report