The brewing industry has gone through a deep valley in the pandemic. With the corona restrictions, draft beer sales came to a temporary standstill. The carnival is the first sales focus in the new year. Not only Kölsch and Altbier producers want to benefit from this.
Cologne/Düsseldorf/Korschenbroich (dpa/lnw) - The Kölsch brewers are expecting very good carnival business after the corona restrictions during the pandemic. "This year, according to first impressions, the trend is going up," said the managing director of the Cologne Brewery Association, Christian Kerner. After a good start to the year in January, the Kölsch producers were hoping for a good February, which is traditionally a sales highlight due to the carnival activities. People are happy that there are no more corona restrictions. That lifts the spirits and might lead to a glass or two of Kölsch being drunk more, Kerner explained.
Alt beer producers are also optimistic about sales over the long carnival weekend. "What we can clearly see is that big events are all going well. A relatively large number of tickets are sold and the big events are also relatively full," said Michael Hollmann, head of the Altbier brewery Bolten in Korschenbroich near Mönchengladbach. This also includes an attractive programme. "Visitors are highly interested in being entertained, partying and enjoying themselves," he explains. Smaller carnival events would have a harder time there. Some of the well-attended events are already above the level of the pre-Corona year 2019 in terms of demand, while smaller ones are still below.
The head of the Düsseldorf home brewery "Füchschen", Peter König, can also look forward to increased demand. "In terms of emissions, we have almost reached the pre-corona level. Demand is very strong," says König. He expects good carnival business. "The demand is there, people want to come and are happy that they can celebrate," says König. One is grateful that the customers of the brewery and gastronomy have remained loyal in difficult times. The Bolten brewery is also increasing its Altbier sales again, as Hollmann reports. In particular, draft beer, which is in demand in gastronomy and at events, is developing well. However, Bolten's sales are not yet back to the pre-corona level.
The breweries in the most populous federal state have regained an average of up to 80 percent in draft beer volume because the beer garden and event business in Rhineland and Westphalia had already started up again in the second quarter of 2022, reports the Pils manufacturer Veltins from Sauerland. "These days, normality is also returning to the foolish strongholds, so that we can record a first encouraging sales focus," says Veltins boss Michael Huber. In 2022, the NRW brewing industry brought back the most amount of beer in its brew kettles compared to the brewing industry in other federal states. The increase in sales compared to the previous year was 1.44 million hectoliters or 7.1 percent.
The Cologne Brewery Association is still reluctant to make a forecast for 2023 and is hoping for a slight increase in sales. Traditionally, March is a rather weak sales month due to Lent. In 2022, Kölsch sales rose by around 12 percent to around 1.53 million hectoliters after a corona dip. "This is the best sales since the pandemic began," says Kerner. The pre-corona level of 1.75 million hectoliters of annual Kölsch production has not yet been reached again. In 2022, draft beer accounted for 35 percent of sales and bottled beer for 65 percent. The proportion of draft beer before Corona was 40 percent, Kerner made the potential clear.
According to Kerner, the Kölsch brewers got off with a black eye during the pandemic. There was short-time work after the gastronomy was restricted. The fact that there were no layoffs during the pandemic is a very good sign. In view of the cost explosion, not only for energy, it can be assumed that Cologne breweries are also examining price increases or have already implemented them. After a consolidation before the pandemic, there are seven breweries in Cologne, five of which are members of the association.
According to data from market researchers at NielsenIQ, Kölsch has increased its lead over Altbier in terms of quantity in food retail and beverage stores. In the NRW trade last year, 8.7 percent of the beers sold were Kölsch. According to the information, Altbier had a market share of 3.0 percent. The gap increased compared to 2021, when, according to the market researchers, Kölsch came to 8.3 percent and old to 3.2 percent. This does not include the catering sales of Kölsch and Alt.