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German breweries warn of beer bottle shortage

May 18, 2022

Rising production costs and logistical issues could lead to a beer bottle shortage, breweries say. Small and mid-sized breweries are likely to be most affected.

Bierflaschen-Knappheit I German breweries warning of beer bottle shortages
The shortage threatens to have an impact on the summer seasonImage: Carsten Rehder/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's brewers have warned that there might not be enough beer bottles for this coming summer season, the country's media reported on Wednesday.

"We will see shortages by summer at the latest," Holger Eichele, the chief executive of the German brewers' federation (Deutsche Brauer-Bund), told German newspaper Bild, adding that the situation is "extremely tense."

An empty beer mug on a table flanked by two benches; several similar tables are seen in the background
The cost of beer bottle production has risenImage: Peter Kneffel/dpa/picture alliance

Stefan Fritsche, deputy chief of the Berlin-Brandenburg Brewers' Association, said the paucity of bottles mainly affected small and mid-sized breweries. "This is threatening the diversity of the Germany beer market."

A spokeswoman for Bitburger Brewery told Bild that the demand for glass bottles on the market "currently often exceeds the existing supply."

What's causing the shortage?

The costs of the energy-intensive process to produce beer bottles has been steadily rising of late.

Eichele said that another reason for the shortage is the lack of truck drivers, which is making it harder to maintain supply chains.

"Those without long-term contracts are now having to pay 80% more for new glass bottles than a year ago," Eichele said. "Some breweries are threatened with being left idle, they might soon have no bottles."

Eichele advised consumers to return their empty bottles as quickly as possible to help ease the situation.

Consumers in Germany pay a deposit on glass and plastic bottles, which they retrieve when they bring their bottles back for reuse.

Outdoor drinking this summer is set to return to pre-pandemic levels now that Germany has loosened almost all restrictions. 

sdi/jsi (dpa).

Beer now more expensive in Germany