French brewers could destroy 10 million litres of beer as lockdown eases

Brewers in France will be forced to destroy 10 million litres of beer despite the country’s lockdown measures starting to lift this week.

The trade association Brasseurs de France, which represents around 98% of France’s brewing sector, has said that 10 million litres of beer is about to go to waste.

The trade body announced on 5 May that the “brutal closure of cafes, restaurants, the cessation of tourist activities and the cancellation of all festivals and fairs has left more than 10 million litres of beer, mostly in barrels, languishing.”

It added that smaller brewers and those who specialise in craft beers and real ales have the most to lose, as their beers are often unpasteurised and have a shorter shelf life. Pasteurised beer can last for about three to four months post delivery, whereas real ales and other unpasteurised beers have a shorter use-by window of between six to nine weeks.

“These are very hoppy beers,” it said, “and if we keep them for too long – after two or three months’ storage – the nose and the taste, the flavour…disappears.”

“The destruction of this beer will have a not-negligible cost on businesses.”

France has cautiously begun to lift its lockdown, with millions back in work after eight weeks of restrictions.

But it will be a long time before things are back to normal. Some parts of the country – including Paris – remain under tighter controls, with the country divided into green and red areas.

Shops have reopened, gatherings of up to 10 people are now permitted, and the public no longer need travel permits to explain why they are not at home, but cafés and restauarnts will not be able to open until June. Even then, only those in green zones will be in the clear.

The closure of hospitality venues has affected beer sales in France. About 25% of breweries in France are currently shutdown due to lack of business, according to a survey carried out at the end of April by Brasseurs de France with its 300 members.

According to the survey, 70% of breweries have lost around 50% of their turnover or more since March 15, when bars and restaurants were forced to close.

Around 40% of French brewers have also cut their production by 60%.

It’s a similar story across the English Channel. Last month, a report from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said that roughly 50 million pints would go to waste in UK pubs and bars if coronavirus lockdown measures stay in place until late summer.

Some brewers, for example Carlsberg, Guinness, Greene King, Heineken and AB InBev, said they would either credit pubs for unopened kegs or replace the spoiled beer.

One Response to “French brewers could destroy 10 million litres of beer as lockdown eases”

  1. Beer says:

    It seems the coronavirus has upset many businesses and brewers are just one of many.

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