Czech farmers are predicting a significant slump in the hop harvest this year, caused by the unusually hot weather and lack of rain. Hop production is expected to drop despite the fact that the overall area of hop fields expanded by 81 hectares in 2018. Last year, farmers harvested over 6,700 tonnes of hops, which was slightly above the average.
Czechs are still the world’s leading beer drinkers, but consumer habits are changing. Whereas once the biggest share of beer produced was consumed at the pub, now Czechs are taking it home. While pubs and restaurants are selling less beer, sales of bottled beer have not dropped and sales of canned beer have seen a sharp rise.
For the first time in 10 years, sales of beer-on-tap in the Czech Republic stopped falling in 2016. Year-on-year, they increased by a little less than one percentage point, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Tuesday. At the same time, people still prefer consuming beer bought in stores, Martina Ferencová of the Beer and Malt Asociation told the daily. According to a report by AC Nielsen, retail sales for beer in the Czech Republic reached 16.4 billion crowns from June 2016 to May 2017. Year-on-year, it was a one-percent increase.
The Japanese company Asahi Group Holdings is to buy the Czech brewery Plzeňský Prazdroj from SABMiller, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Plzeňský Prazdroj, which makes the famous Pilsner Urquell lager, is changing hands as part of a EUR 7.3 billion deal that also includes a number of other breweries in the Central and Eastern Europe region. Asahi reportedly outbid PPF, the investment firm of Czech tycoon Petr Kellner, and other contenders. The European Commission made the sale a condition for agreeing to SABMiller’s acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Sales of the flagship beer Pilsner Urquell rose by more than 8 percent overall last year compared with 2014 based on sales on the domestic market and abroad. That means that a new record for overall sales surpassing the 2 million hectoliters of 2014 will be set. The beer is one of the main marks of Czech brewer Plzeňský Prazdroj, which belongs to the SAB Miller group.
The Association of Producers and Importers of Spirits has also slammed the finance minister’s plan to lower VAT on draft beer as populist and unfair to producers of other alcoholic beverages. The head of the association, Jaroslav Burkart, said he hoped the plan would not win government consent since it would disadvantage spirits, wine and liquor producers. The head of the government’s National Anti-Drug Agency Jindřich Vobořil, also criticized the plan, saying it goes against the government’s plans to fight alcoholism.He told the dailz Pravo he waould resign if the proposal was approved.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš’ proposal to lower the VAT on draft beer from 21 to 10 percent raised a storm of opposition in the lower house on Friday with opposition deputies calling it “blatant populism”. The finance minister’s plan, unveiled on Czech TV on Thursday, raised eyebrows even among his coalition partners with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka saying that if the price of draft beer were to go down then the Social Democrats would push for a tax reduction on basic groceries such as meat, milk, bread and butter.