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Last Updated: Monday, 2 February, 2004, 13:31 GMT
German beer slumps despite heat
Oktoberfest scene
Germans remain among Europe's heaviest beer-drinkers
Last year's heat wave failed to tempt Germans back to their national drink.

Beer consumption slid by 3.4% in 2003 despite the long hot summer - a total of 581 million pints down on 2002.

The ongoing decline is blamed on a trend towards healthier living, economic problems and a deposit now payable on many cans and bottles.

"Even the hottest summer in a century could not even out the slump in sales caused by political decisions," said the German Brewers' Association.

However, German beer exports rose by 11%, helping to shield the industry from the worst effects.

It's as if we are becoming a little bit more European, and drinking habits are becoming more similar across Europe
British Beer and Pub Association
The Federal Statistics Office said that inside German last year's sales were 9.32 billion litres (2.42 billion gallons) of beer - down from 9.65 billion litres (2.51 billion gallons) on the previous year.

Germans remain among the heaviest beer-drinkers in Europe - with only the Czechs and Irish downing more.

In 2002 the average German was getting through 125 litres a year - more than 220 pints - well ahead of the average Briton on 100 litres a year (177 pints).

"What has happened across Europe is that in big beer-drinking countries consumption has come down, while wine consumption has increased," a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association told BBC News Online.

"In more traditional wine-drinking countries it's been the other way round, and wine consumption has fallen while beer consumption has increased.

"It's as if... drinking habits are becoming more similar across Europe."

Germany still has 1,280 breweries, but the home market has been steadily shrinking since the mid-1990s.

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