How Germany beer bottle shortage is affecting the Industry

Empty bottles run through a bottling plant for cleaning and new filling in at a brewery in Munich, southern Germany in June 2020

German breweries are warning there could be a shortage of beer bottles this summer amid rising production costs and a shortage of lorry drivers.

The situation is “extremely tense”, the chief executive of the German Brewers’ Federation told German newspaper Bild.

The shortage of glass bottles will mainly affect small- and medium-sized breweries, an industry expert said.

Brewers are having to pay 80% more for new glass bottles than they did a year ago. The cost of beer is also rising.

One of the reasons behind the shortage is a hike in energy prices which is causing the price of glass bottle production to increase, a glass industry spokesperson told Bild.

In addition, Holger Eichele of the German Brewers’ Federation said a lack of lorry drivers was making it harder to maintain supply chains.

As a result, he said the cost of new glass bottles had nearly doubled in the last year.

It follows warnings that the cost of German beer could rise by up to 30%, also due largely to the increase in energy prices.

The shortage of bottles is likely to hit smaller breweries the hardest, because the bigger companies are typically supplied first.

Mr Eichele said the best thing Germans could do was to return glass bottles to retailers as quickly as possible, advising consumers not to “hoard empties in the basement”.

Glass bottles, which are common in Germany, are sold with a small deposit, and beer drinkers are expected to bring them back to the shop when getting their next round.

Cans, used elsewhere in the world, are far less common and many breweries use customised bottles that are tricky to replace.

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