The mission was funded by the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture and hosted at the Westbury Hotel by the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce. Over 70 trade visitors attended a tasting and the mission also included over 50 meetings with Irish businesses here as the delegation met with potential Irish partners over the course of a week.
Dr Hermann Pilz, Editor-In-Chief of a number of German drinks magazines, gave an overview of current trends and consumer preferences in the German alcoholic beverage market.
There were 1,352 breweries in Germany in 2014 producing 96 million Hecltolitres of beer 16% of which was exported.
However only 260 of these breweries employ more than 20 people. The county also imports around 8% of its beer needs.
Beer consumption there grew 0.4% last year which was good news for Krombacher, the second-largest-selling brand in Germany with Bitburger being the third and Warsteiner the sixth. Paulaner lay one place below this in seventh place and Erdinger was the 10th best-selling beer in the country.
According to the German-Irish Chamber, German wine’s reputation is improving in Ireland slowly but surely, having suffered in the last decades due to its association with a number of big branded sweet wines that have dominated the market since the 80s.
Germany itself imports a lot of still wine, mainly from Italy, France and Spain. German wines account for 7.5 million Hectolitres or 37.5% of consumption while foreign wines, at 12.5 million Hectolitres, account for 62.5% of consumption in Germany.
Germany accounted for 43.4% of off-trade volumes in 2014 while Italy accounted for 15.9% and France 14.8% followed by smaller shares for Spain and other countries.
Germany had 45% of the off-trade market by value in 2014 with Italy having 16.18% and France having 14.6%.
White wine accounts for 41% of consumption (where it had once been 80%) while red accounts for 49% with Rose taking up the remainder.
In German society, demographic developments are redefining patterns in wine consumption, said Dr Hermann Pilz; the German population is declining with the percentage of older people growing. And the number of people who, for cultural reasons, do not drink wine is on the increase, thus market penetration is dropping.
Germany has the biggest sparkling wine market in the world although this declined by 6.1% in 2013 to 34 million 12-litre cases with per capita consumption running at four litres. While there are some 1,340 sparkling wine producers, only eight produce more than five million litres annually and together these eight account for 84.9% of the German sparkling wine market.
Some 85% of the German sparkling wine market is supplied from within Germany itself and heavy discounting applies there too with some sparkling wines sold in groceries for as little as €2.22 a bottle.
Some 58 million cases of spirits are sold in Germany each year. Some 37.5 million of these are imported while the country also exports 23.3 million cases.
“Whiskeys” are responsible for some 10.2% of this market.
Irish cider accounts for 17% of the 86.4 million litre German cider market while the UK accounts for 15.1% of it. Finland has an 8% share while German ciders have less than one per cent of the cider market there.
The trade mission was the third such event for German drinks producers run by the German-Irish Chamber here in as many years.
“We focused exclusively on wine in the last two years and successfully supported 16 German vineyards in their quest to find partners in Ireland,” stated Ralf Lissek, Chief Executive of the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce, “We believe the time is right to open it up to beer and spirits as well given the way the industry in Ireland is going at the moment with a move towards craft drinks and away from big brands.”
Sales of German bottled beers here witnessed a 52% increase in 2013-14.
The four German breweries exhibiting at the tasting varied from larger outlets with a wide selection of beers to smaller family-owned set-ups. Premier International, Irish Pubs Global and Pro Addition numbered among the visitors to the tasting.
Afterwards, the companies, assisted by the German-Irish Chamber of Commerce, set off on individual journeys around Ireland to meet potential clients and importers and build a more rounded impression of the Irish market for alcoholic beverages.