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.
The once firm conviction among Czech beer lovers that canned beer loses its quality, tastes flat and acquires a metallic tang has been undermined by the younger generation of drinkers for whom cans are perfectly normal packaging.
Statistics released by the Czech Union of Breweries and Malt-Houses confirm that an increasing number of consumers are now throwing canned beer into their shopping carts rather than lugging home carts of bottled beer. Sales of canned beer in the month of June were 73 percent higher year-on-year and market chains such as Kaufland, Globus or Macro all report increased sales. This despite the fact that canned beer is still on average 3 crowns more expensive than bottled beer. Martina Ferencová, executive director at the Czech Union of Breweries and Malt Houses, explains what is behind the changing trend.
“Canned beer is fast gaining popularity mainly for practical reasons. Cans are light, unbreakable and handy to take on trips. The beer in them cools faster than in a glass bottle, a can is easy to open and easily disposable unlike the reusable glass bottles you need to return to your store.”
The country’s leading beer producers are scrambling to meet the growing demand for canned beer. In 2015 Staropramen invested 100 million crowns into a new packaging line for canned beer, increasing its capacity by 30 percent. Plzensky Prazdroj, which produces the Pilsner Urquell brand sold world-wide, says every seventh Pilsner beer sold is now sold in a can. The company’s spokesperson Jitka Nemečková says the company is responding to the changing trend.
“In view of the growing demand for canned beer both at home and abroad we started operating another production line for canned beer in June of this year. This has increased our canned-beer capacity by 75 percent. The new line produces 40 thousand cans of Pilsner per hour and enables us to produce eight different packaging versions.”
While environmentalists are far from happy about the growing popularity of canned beer, producers say that as Czechs gradually convert to cans they will start recycling them as well. Already there are 3,800 containers for metal waste around the country and more are in the pipeline. However it may take a while for this picture to materialize. For the time being beer in reusable glass bottles makes up for 42 percent of the beer sold on the market, while canned beer only accounts for around 6 percent.