Germany is by far the most important beer market in Europe, followed by Great Britain, Poland and Spain. Only consumers in the Czech Republic drink more of this alcoholic drink (Austrians are on the same level). Generally, though, consumption has been decreasing. The taxed sales volume has been falling for years, even if the FIFA World Cup 2006 and 2014 temporarily revived the business.
The market share of imported beers has nearly doubled in the last ten years, but the domestic market is still shaped by local brewery companies. The Radeberger Group (also: Jever, DAB, Berliner Pilsener, Sternburg and others), belonging to the Oetker Group, the Belgian-Brasilian brewery group AB InBev (among others, Beck’s, Hasseröder and Löwenbräu) and Bitburger (including König Pilsener, Köstritzer, Licher and Wernesgrüner) are the leading brewery groups on the German market, based on sales figures. Oettinger, Krombacher and Bitburger represent the leading German beer brands, according to production numbers.
The mixed beer drink segment, such as Radler or Alsterwasser, grew significantly at the beginning of the millennium, but has been stagnating for several years. Drinks mixed from beer and lemonade, which were sold mainly in hypermarkets and discounters, played the biggest role in this segment. The market leader in Germany is the Karlsberg brewery with its brand Mixery.
A trend which is occupying the brewing industry in recent years is craft beer. While the beer market in Germany and on the other side of the Atlantic is shrinking, the number of breweries is paradoxically growing, as more and more small and microbreweries appear. These attempt to separate their products from the mass by introducing unusual flavors. Generally craft beer breweries mean small, owner-managed companies which are committed to craft traditions (but not necessarily to the German Reinheitsgebot). In Germany, craft beer has so far become more popular in several smaller urban markets. The share of small breweries in the total beer production in Germany has not grown in recent years.
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