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Beer sales down 12.3% in first quarter

Beer sales down 12.3% in first quarter
27.05.2009, 16:20 17

Beer sales dropped by 12.3% in the first three months of this year from a year ago, to 3.1 million hectolitres, which makes this the first quarter in ten years with such a production decline on the Romanian beer market, reveal data from the National Statistics Institute (INS).
The representatives of brewers, of sector associations and research companies maintain, though, that the market fell by less than 10% in the first three months of this year, with their estimates ranging between a 4 and 7% decline.
Their explanation is that INS data include only sales by producers to wholesalers and store chains of modern retail and therefore do not cover the real beer consumption, assessed by market research firms.
"Brewers were much more cautious about deliveries in the first months of this year so as to reduce stocks on the market and lessen the impact in the final price of products," explained Constantin Bratu, general manager of Romania's Brewers Association.
He added that during out-of-season periods it takes as long as a month between the production moment and that of consumption, so that larger beer stocks are generated.
Total beer sales in the first quarter reached 3.1 million hectolitres, from over 3.6 million hectolitres in the previous year and 579.1m RON (around 135m euros), according to the INS. The steepest decline at market level was posted in February, with a 12.7% minus from the same period of the previous year, closely followed by March, with a 12.3% drop.
The hardest hit were small and medium-sized brewers, which generated sales of 109,010 hectolitres in the first quarter, down 18.5% from the first quarter of 2008.
"As a result of the crisis fallout and the lump sum tax, many small brewers are disappearing," stated Vifor Versescu, general manager of the Romanian Independent Brewers' Employers Association.
Marius Caluian, general manager of retail audit firm MEMRB, maintains beer sales in the first 18 weeks of this year in the same number of stores that existed in modern retail in 2008 as well rose from the same period of 2008.
Beer sales and consumption are likely to drop further, though, in April-June.
The beer market in late 2008 posted sales of around 1.6bn euros and 20.2 million hectolitres, rising by 4.1% in terms of volume from the figures reached during the previous year, according to the data from Romania's Brewers Association.

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