In this case, it's about all the beer shipped to the British troops serving abroad. Well, not so much the beer, as the bottles, crates and barrels in which it was packaged. It shouldn't come a surprise that virtually none of the packaging was returned. Which was a big problem during the war and its immediate aftermath as they could not easily be replaced.
The head of the off-licence trade organisation was very aware of this problem and made an appeal to the public in this letter:
"Christmas BeerHere are UK wartime exports by destination:
Sir —Despite acute shortages of hops, barley, labour and transport, the brewing industry is doing its best to provide Christmas beer for the public and our troops overseas.
Of the millions of beer bottles sent overseas very few return, and the consequent strain on supplies for home distribution is enormous. Brewers, licensees and off-licence holders will be faced with a breakdown in the bottled beer supply over the festive season unless they have the wholehearted co-operation of the public in returning all empty bottles, complete with stoppers, whatever their condition and wherever they may be unearthed.
May I, therefore, appeal to every beer consumer to search his cupboards and deliver to his "local” or off-licence every bottle he can find, and to renew the effort after the holiday.—Yours etc.
Secretary, National Federation of Off-licence Holders’ Association."
Birmingham Daily Gazette - Monday 17 December 1945, page 2.
|UK beer exports by destination 1939 - 1945|
|Irish Free State||52,081||35,306||25,843||16,730||14,810||4,878||128|
|British W. Africa||12,468||13,873||22,328||15,544||19,161||10,225||1,190|
|India & Straits Settlements||63,186||69,963||62,260||11,523||638||2,506||38,333|
|Brit. West India||10,925||8,499||8,081||5,082||6,629||1,701||7|
|Brewers' Almanack 1955, page 57.|
Why the big fall in 1942? Could it be connected with the USA's entry into the war?