Trending

Putin's war has Germany facing beer bottle shortage – breweries begging drinkers to return empty ones

Business Insider US
Beer bottles on a conveyor belt in Germany. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images.
Beer bottles on a conveyor belt in Germany. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images.
  • German breweries are imploring customers to return their empty beer bottles, the NYT reported.
  • There is a shortage of beer bottles in Germany and it's getting more costly to source new bottles.
  • The conflict in Ukraine, which supplies Germany with glass, has played a role in the shortage.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

German breweries are begging buyers to return their empty crates of beer bottles amid ongoing shortages.

The New York Times reported the news.

Energy prices for the manufacture of glass have played a role in the shortage, as has the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which supplies German brewers with glass.

Russian blockades of Ukrainian ports have also hampered exports out of the country, threatening a global food crisis that could become catastrophic.

"It is deadly for small brewers," Stefan Fritsche, who runs a German brewery, told the Times, citing difficulties in getting customers to lug their empty crates back to the stores.

In a statement sent to Insider, general manager of the German Brewers' Association, Holger Eichele, said the shortages were "indirectly related" to the conflict in Ukraine. 

"It is a fact that unfortunately several glass factories in Ukraine have been destroyed by Russian attacks or had to close down and therefore can no longer deliver to Western Europe. This has increased the overall demand for glass products and glass containers in Germany as well," the statement added. 

Eichele also cited reduced activity at factories as a result of rising energy costs as a reason for the shortages, which was also pushing up the price of glass bottles.

Breweries without supply contracts are paying 80% - 90% more for new bottles than they did last year, Eichele added in the statement.

The manager said there was no indication that beer production would be curbed, but added that it was becoming harder for brewers to "maintain the supply chain."

Breweries are tapping into Germany's deposit system to encourage more customers to return their empties. Under the system, buyers pay a deposit of either 8 or 15 euro cents (around $0.15 - $0.15) for a returnable glass bottle, which they can later claim back, often in the form of store vouchers.

Most people allow bottles to accumulate before returning them and redeeming their money in one go.

"The climate-friendly reusable system in Germany is unique in the world. Unfortunately, it is also uniquely expensive at present," Eichele said.

Some breweries have thought about upping the surcharge to persuade more people to return their empties, while other have been forced to increase the price of a crate of beer, the Times added.

"Every empty crate that comes back prevents us from having to buy a new one," a representative for one brewery told The Times.

The conflict has also increased the cost of other commodities and raw materials produced in Russia and Ukraine. This includes fertilizer, wheat, and sunflower oil — as supplies from both countries have been slashed.


Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
16.58
-1.4%
Rand - Pound
19.77
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.98
+0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.22
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-1.3%
Gold
1,772.99
-2.0%
Silver
19.37
-3.1%
Palladium
1,925.00
-0.5%
Platinum
860.50
-3.0%
Brent Crude
113.50
+1.7%
Top 40
58,953
-3.2%
All Share
65,006
-3.0%
Resource 10
59,416
-6.6%
Industrial 25
80,333
-1.1%
Financial 15
14,357
-3.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo