Over the past 40 years, Geraman beer consumption has been steadily declining. In the 1980s, an average German who used alcohol had 150 liters of beer per year. Now the quantity has fallen to about 100 liters – still high but not as high as it used to be.
One reason for the decrease is the aging population in Germany. Older people are cutting down on alcohol with growing age and increasing health concerns. The other reason is that younger people are consuming less alcohol, or staying alcohol-free longer, than their ancestors. Around the world Millennials and Generation Z are driving a decrease in alcohol use. This is attributed to higher awareness about the health harms caused by alcohol and being far more concerned about their own health and well-being and how alcohol negatively affects the body and mind. German youth are also showing this global trend.
As a result, beer production has begun to decline in the world. Since its peak at 1.97 billion hectolitres of beer brewed in 2013, production has fallen almost every year, by more than 8% overall.
Non-alcoholic beer on the other hand is doing well in the market. Since 2007, sales of non-alcoholic beer in Germany have more than doubled. 400 different non-alcoholic beer brands are now available in Germany. The market leader in the non-alcoholic segment is Krombacher, followed by Jever Fun and Bitburger.
As Movendi International has reported previously, there is rising interest in the alcohol-free way of life in Germany. It is estimated the one in 15 beers sold in Germany is alcohol-free.
New businesses catering to the growing alcohol-free and sober curious young Germans are also popping up like the first ever alcohol-free kiosk or “sober Späti”, in Kreuzberg, Berlin.
More needs to be done to tackle German alcohol problem
The falling beer consumption and the rising interest among Germans to live alcohol-free is good news for the country. However, alcohol is still causing a heavy burden on the German people.
As reported in a study released by the German Central Office for Addiction Issues:
- 74,000 people die every year due to alcohol in Germany.
- Approximately 21,700 children and youth between the age of 10 and 20 years were hospitalized due to alcohol poisoning, in 2017.
- 231,300 crimes were committed by people under the influence of alcohol. That is 11% of all crimes committed in Germany for the year.
- 40,007 acts of violence were committed under the influence of alcohol in 2016. That is 27.3% of all solved cases in the area of violent crime.
- 13.403 alcohol-related road traffic accidentsoccurred in 2016 where people got injured. In total 16,770 people got injured and 225 people died in alcohol-attributable crashes.
- Alcohol costs to society: The direct and indirect costs from alcohol-attributable disease amount to €40 billion every year.
The COVID-19 pandemic made matters worse for the German alcohol problem. The Nuremberg Clinic surveyed over 3000 adults on their alcohol consumption and found that 35.5% of survey respondents reported consuming more or much more alcohol than before the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, under-funded addiction counseling centers can not keep up with the rising demand for services.
But the alcohol lobby maintains a stranglehold on German alcohol policy. This is demonstrated by the fact that German government is pushing for a beer tax reduction for a whole year.
While decreasing beer consumption due to German people’s personal choices is a positive trend more needs to be done in terms of policy solutions to tackle the German alcohol problem.
In March this year, the German parliamentary health committee held a hearing to discuss Germany’s alcohol policy. The committee concluded, that there are evidence-based, cost-effective policy solutions available to reduce and prevent alcohol harm in Germany. What is lacking is political will in Germany and the EU to advance action to solve these problems.