The Czech brewing industry recorded a loss of over CZK 4.7bn (€ 179mn) from March to May due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and related government measures, as stated in a study conducted by the Center for Economic and Market Analysis (CETA), published on July 28.
The most negatively affected were restaurants and bars, which were forced to close overnight. Beer sales in this segment decreased by 55% (728,000 hectoliters) between March and May.
The losses of the breweries in terms of sales exceeded CZK 1.104mn. Sales of bottled beer, which was sold more in stores, increased by about CZK 794mn.
“The hospitality and beer industries suffered significant losses during the coronavirus crisis. Most pubs reopened in June, but the coming weeks will decide whether they survive. The most critical situation is in Prague, Karlovy Vary, and other localities dependent on tourism,” said executive director of the Czech Association of Breweries and Malthouses Martina Ferencova, quoted by the Czech News Agency.
“For the next period, it will be crucial for the government to continue to support the most affected sectors, including the hospitality industry, and at the same time not burden them with new administrative and regulatory measures,” Ferencova stressed.
In connection with possible concerns about the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants fear further possible closures and further losses.
“Although the pubs and restaurants are open, we definitely have not won. Demand is still subdued in many places, while costs are returning to their original levels. Especially in tourist locations, restaurants need help as well as hotels and spas. Following the example of the tourism agenda, also the National Gastronomy Support Program should be established. With a clear agenda and action plan,” said co-founder of the Hospodska restaurant group Lubos Kastner.
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Last year, Czech breweries increased their production by 1.6 percent year on year to 21.6 million hectoliters, announced the Czech Beer and Malt Association on Wednesday.
Czech Republic’s beer production keeps growing, driven by interest abroad.
However, production will fall in 2020 due to coronavirus and government restrictive measures. According to Czech Beer and Malt Association, beer sales will fall by 40 percent year on year from March to the end of May.
During 2019, Czech beer consumption increased by two large beers per capita, reaching approximately 142 liters per capita. The amount of beer sold in restaurants and pubs fell by one percentage point to 35 percent.
Beer imports increased by 10.7 percent to 424 thousand hectoliters, mainly from Poland, Hungary, Germany, and from outside the European Union, Mexico, Serbia, and Vietnam.
“We are glad that Czech beer tastes good not only at home but also abroad. But we do not look to the future with too much optimism. Restaurants closed for more than two months, zero tourism will have a negative effect on the results of this year,” said the chairman of the Association František Šámal.
Exports have grown to Sweden and Hungary. Czech beer exports to countries outside the European Union increased by one fifth in 2019.
Among the new importers of Czech beer are Antarctica, Angola, Bahrain, the Bermuda Islands, Philippines, Senegal, and Ecuador.
Bottled beer had a 40 percent share, barrel beer had a share of 33 percent, for which the share decreased by 2 percent. Consumption of beer in plastic bottles was at 11 percent, a drop of 1 percent.
Czechs have long held the title of the largest beer drinkers in the world. A survey by Japanese brewer Kirin has the Czech Republic on top ever since it became an independent country. In the most recent survey, Namibia came in second, followed by Austria, Germany and Poland.
Coronavirus has been affecting the lives of many people lately, including small breweries.
Due to the closure of restaurants, their demand dropped significantly. These circumstances led to the initiative Zachraň pivo (Save the Beer) to help them with the sale of alcoholic beverages.
At the moment, there are 1,306,833 half-liter glasses of craft beer sitting in tanks.
“Thousands of beers are waiting to be rescued. Brewed, fresh and unpasteurized beer is perishable. Throwing several thousand liters into a canal can put an end for some of us. Do you want to help Czech microbreweries? ” stated the post on the Facebook page.
According to the representatives of this initiative, it is not difficult to help. “Just look at our map, find the nearest store, buy and drink beers. Do you know a more pleasant way to help someone?”
“A quarter of about 500 Czech microbreweries will not survive the crisis”, said on Wednesday the president of the Czech-Moravian Brewery Association Jan Šuráň.
According to him, beer production in microbreweries has fallen by an average of 80 to 85 percent.
“These people will last for a month. The government should act as quickly as possible to compensate for the crisis measures. Restaurant operators pointed out that based on the Crisis Act, paragraph 36 states “the state is obliged to compensate the damage caused to legal and natural persons in causal connection with crisis measures with interest-free loans, withholding tax payments, or forgiving insurance payments.”
Microbrewers would join restaurants in the case of a class-action lawsuit. “If the government does not support microbreweries, there will be thousands of unemployed people”, according to Šuráň.
Some 6,000 pubs and restaurants across the Czech Republic take part in the seventh annual Czech Beer Days (Dny českého piva) from September 24 to September 30.
St. Wenceslas Day, the 28th of September, is a national holiday, celebrating Václav I’s legacy of helping unify Bohemia. But he is also considered the patron saint of beer.
Dozens of breweries and microbreweries are participating nationwide in the festival. Pubs, restaurants, and breweries will offer special menus and beers, and meetings with brewers and beer experts.
“We believe that Czech Beer Days will help encourage people to go out more often for their favorite beer. Czechs love Czech beer and Czech beer tradition. We know that favorite pubs, especially for smaller towns and villages, are the center of social and cultural life,” František Šámal, chairman of the ČSPS, said in a press release.
The Union of Breweries and Malt Houses established the Days of Czech Beer festival (Dny českého piva) in his honour seven years ago.
Budějovický Budvar this year is featuring the unfiltered ‘Budvar 33’, so named for its degree of bitterness, thanks to extra Czech hops Agnus.