Twenty years ago no self-respecting beer drinker in the Czech Republic would be seen dead swigging beer from a can. There was a widespread perception that bottled beer is superior and beer in cans loses its quality, tasting flat and acquiring a metallic tang. That is fast changing and breweries are expanding their packaging capacities to meet growing demand for canned beer.
While Czechs, who pride themselves on making the best beer in the world, are still resisting the canned beer revolution abroad, the change in consumer demand is becoming increasingly evident. While bottled beer still has the lion’s share of the market, Czechs are increasingly throwing canned beer into their shopping carts. One reason behind the increasing demand for canned beer is a whole new generation for whom cans are perfectly normal packaging. Another is that more and more consumers are buying canned beer for practical reasons – they are light, unbreakable, easy to open and ideal to take on trips. And thirdly, they are easily disposed of, as compared to returnable glass bottles which you need to wash out and take back to the store.
While environmentalists are far from happy about the growing popularity of canned beer, breweries are happy to convert. For instance Staropramen this year invested 100 million crowns into a new packaging line for canned beer, increasing its capacity by 30 percent. New launches of fruit flavoured and alcohol-free beers are usually available in cans only. And the difference in price between the bottled and canned variety –which used to be considerable –is also diminishing. Now canned beer is only slightly more expensive than the same brew in a bottle.
Despite this, the amount of canned beer sold in the Czech Republic still accounts for only a fraction of the country’s beer sales. Canned beer now represents approximately 5 percent of the overall beer sold, while in some countries it is up to 30 percent. Last year canned beer sales went up by 16 percent and the sale of bottled beer dropped by one percentage point. However breweries expect to see the demand for canned beer grow further and gradually follow the same pattern as in other European states.
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