The corona restrictions in gastronomy have been lifted and the beer garden season can begin.

The brewers actually celebrate German Beer Day on April 23rd.

But this year, too, there is no talk of a celebratory mood.

"The year 505 after the establishment of the Purity Law will be burned into the history of the brewing industry as a cost booster," says Michael Huber, Chief Representative of the Veltins brewery, adding: "For many regional brewers, the pressure in accounting is greater than in the brew kettle." After According to industry observers, consumers are facing beer price increases in retail - long announced and no reaction to the latest development.

As in many other sectors of the economy, concerns about skyrocketing energy prices and a possible gas supply stop are having a knock-on effect among suppliers.

"Unfortunately, we are used to delivery bottlenecks and cost increases - the Corona crisis has already hit the brewing industry hard.

But what is happening right now is beyond all dimensions: We are seeing unprecedented price increases for raw materials, packaging, energy and logistics," says Holger Eichele, General Manager of the German Brewers' Association.

In the case of brewing malt and new glass in particular, the purchase prices for new supply contracts or, in some cases, also for clauses in the existing contracts went through the roof.

"Everyone is busy with themselves," says the editor of the magazine "Inside", Niklas Other, describing the unrest in the brewing industry.

Especially the many small brewers without long-term supply contracts and price hedging would have trouble keeping their heads above water in the cost wave.

For them, raw materials are also no longer readily available.

The demand crisis caused by the restrictions in the catering trade has turned into a supply crisis and, above all, a cost crisis.

In the past few decades, the vast majority of brewers have switched their brew kettles to gas.

There is great concern that a gas supply stop could immediately bring beer production to a standstill because brewers are not part of the critical infrastructure.

Russia was the second largest sales market

Russia had risen to become the second largest sales market for German beer abroad after Italy and was considered one of the most promising growth markets in the German brewing industry.

According to the German Brewers' Association, around 2 million hectoliters of beer were exported to Russia last year.

That is almost 13 percent of German beer exports.

Eichele estimates that exports to Russia have come to an almost complete standstill.

"Russian exports stopped for a variety of reasons," says Other.

Large brewers, for example, deliberately avoided doing so themselves because of the war, and exports were no longer possible due to the massive devaluation of the ruble or transport problems.

“We immediately stopped all investments in the Russian market when the war in Ukraine began.

We have also completely stopped exporting our goods to Russia," says Axel Dahm, spokesman for the management of the Bitburger brewery group.

Until further notice, all business relationships in Germany and abroad with Russian partners or companies with Russian participation have been suspended.

It's about "supporting the current sanctions policy with our resources," said Dahm.

Other breweries, such as Erdinger Weißbräu and Krombacher, also stated that they had stopped exporting beer to Russia since the beginning of the war.

The Radeberger Group has also stopped exporting to Russia.

Nobody dares to make a prediction

The German Brewers' Association is currently not daring to forecast how much beer German breweries will sell at home and abroad this year.

“We drive through a wall of smoke at high speed,” describes Managing Director Eichele.

Unfortunately, the hope that the bottom has been reached after the sales declines during the pandemic has not yet been fulfilled for many companies.

In the gastronomy, which is important for the draft beer business, it can be seen that the number of guests is increasing again.

However, brewers and restaurateurs are still a long way from the level before the pandemic.

According to industry observers, beer prices in retail will begin to move after Easter for a number of brands.

However, this is only about the price increases that a number of large brewers had already announced in the autumn.

"These are currently being implemented in retail and will certainly also become visible to consumers after Easter," says market researcher Marcus Strobl from NielsenIQ.

The Easter business was fueled in many places in supermarkets and beverage stores with price campaigns, describes Other.

He estimates that the beer crate with 20 half-litre bottles could be around 1 euro more expensive for large Pilsner brands.

Nevertheless, the price increase should be moderate at less than ten percent of the normal price.