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The Warsaw Voice » Business » October 28, 2009
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Drinkers Not Crying Into Their Beer
October 28, 2009 By A.R.    
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Polish beer drinkers are starting to curb their consumption. Sales for the first half of the year fell a whopping 12.5 percent to give the nation's beer industry its worst result since 1989.

Polish breweries sold 15.9 million hl of beer during the first half of the year, compared with 18.2 million hl over the same period last year. Sales are expected to fall around eight or nine percent over the entire year. This represents an annual drop in consumption of seven to eight liters per person in Poland.

The decline in sales was apparent as early as the first quarter of the year, or even at the end of last year. The climate of economic doom and gloom made people more cautious about spending money. The economic slowdown, however, is only one of the causes. A 13.6 percent increase in excise tax and natural market saturation are also partly to blame.

Neither the larger brewers affiliated with the Union of Brewing Industry Employers in Poland (ZPPP Browary Polskie) nor the smaller regional players that belong to the Polish Regional Brewers Association have been spared the impact of the drop in sales.

"This year has been a tough one for everyone on the beer market in Poland," says ZPPP Browary Polskie chairman Christopher Barrow. "For the customer, because the price in the shops has gone up. For the Polish government, because of the lower-than-expected excise tax revenue for the budget. For the breweries, because this first market slump since 1989 is forcing us to cut back on production capacity and, as a consequence, employment."

Barrow says the beer industry is apprehensive about the months ahead. Given the economic slowdown, any further increase in the excise rate, or the planned marketing freedom restriction on the beer market, alongside the further restrictions planned on advertising beer, could unleash a chain reaction of negative consequences, not just for the industry, but for the economy as a whole, says Barrow.
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