German Beer Sales Decline to Lowest in 20 Years on Cold Weather

German beer sales dropped to 1.99 billion liters (4.2 billion pints) in the first quarter, the lowest amount in at least 20 years, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Volume dropped 4.3 percent to the lowest level since 1993, when the data were adjusted to exclude alcohol-free beer, Petra Martin, a spokeswoman said.

“We had a long, snowy winter, so people did not go out that much to have beer in the sun,” said Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, a spokesman for German Brewers Federation.

Beer sales have shrunk for 37 years since peak consumption in Germany of 151 liters per capita in 1976, according to the trade group. Last year the average German downed 106 liters, almost a third less. Still, Germany ranks only below the Czech Republic for per-capita beer consumption, according to 2010 statistics compiled by Kirin Holdings Co.

“The population is getting older, the drinking culture is changing, alcohol has been banned from the workplace and young people have a much bigger variety of drinks to choose from,” Huhnholz said.

The breweries with the biggest market share in Germany are Radeberger Gruppe, which is owned by Dr. August Oetker KG, Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), the producer of Beck’s, and closely held Bitburger Braugruppe.

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