It’s about the production costs of beer. A fascinating subject, I’m sure you’ll agree.
“Table V gives the average costs of beer production in West Germany in DM/hl. Whilst raw material costs declined from 1973 to 1974 by a small amount, all other costs increased with the increase in wages. Two trends are very important: production costs decrease from the smaller to the larger plants but advertising and distribution costs increase from the smaller to the bigger plants and compensate for the difference in the production costs. The large number of small breweries operating successfully without fear of take-over in West Germany is due to the fact that the purchase of another brewery is only good business if it is possible to stop its production as soon as possible. All outlets and distributors must also be tied to that brewery.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 83, Issue 1, March-April 1977, page 73.
I’m not totally sure I follow the reason given for takeovers being unattractive in Germany. A more likely explanation is that the small breweries tended to be family owned. Far harder to buy up than a publicly-traded company, unless the owners agreed. Plus a lot of the small Franconian breweries are just too damn tiny and have too little trade to be a very exciting acquisition.
It makes sense that small local breweries didn’t need to spend much on advertising or distribution. I’m sure there are some that don’t distribute at all, just selling directly from their own pub and shop.
Here’s the table:
|TABLE V. Beer Production Costs in West Germany (DM/hl).|
|Production costs before filling||6.63||7.03|
|Administration and Distribution||11.25||12.78|
It’s sort of their table. The last three rows I’ve added.
It confirms what an expensive business bottling is. It’s the second largest cost after the raw materials and about 20% of the total cost. And is double the cost of making the beer itself.
There’s one other cost I’d like to have seen: tax. Though this being Germany, that wouldn’t be all that high.
A strange though has come to me. I was in Cologne last weekend and did some shopping in Penny, a cheapo supermarket. I bought a couple of half-litre plastic bottles of Adelskrona Export, a snip at 29 cents each. That’s 58 euros a hectolitre, or about 1.16 DM. Only about double the average production cost of 40 years ago. How on earth can they make beer that cheap?
Raw materials next time.