PRAGUE (Reuters) – Czech breweries — together with Pilsner Urquell and Budejovicky Budvar — have stopped refilling kegs and began storing their beer in cooled cellars as they search to restrict harm from pub closures attributable to the coronavirus outbreak.
A waitress passes a plastic bottle of beer to a buyer by way of a window of a closed pub because the Czech authorities mandated eating places and pubs to close to comprise the unfold of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Prague, Czech Republic, March 25, 2020. Image taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny
Breweries have additionally ramped up bottle and may manufacturing strains to offset a loss from keg gross sales each overseas and within the Czech Republic, which leads the world in per capita beer consumption.
“No one is aware of when the pubs will reopen,” stated Petr Kofron, supervisor of the Pilsner brewery in Prague, owned by Japan’s Asahi.
“Most neighbouring international locations took the identical measures and shut their pubs so export has shifted into bottles and cans,” he advised Reuters.
“Bottle strains and cans are operating at full tilt. We hope our prospects purchase bottles and cans whereas they’re at residence.”
The Czechs applied a few of Europe’s hardest restrictions to blunt the coronavirus unfold, banning non-essential motion whereas closing retailers and eating places, apart from meals and drugstores.
Whereas pubs and a few breweries nonetheless promote take-away beer to a smattering of walk-up prospects, the drop in demand in a nation the place residents drink a mean 141 litres of beer per particular person yearly has rippled by way of the trade.
In addition to large consuming Czechs, the hordes of thirsty vacationers who descend on Prague and different cities additionally assist to maintain the beer flowing within the nation’s pubs.
SMALL BREWERS SUFFER
Czechs drink extra draught beer in pubs than different nations, which makes the closures particularly painful for smaller breweries that depend on keg gross sales. The trade group representing small brewers has warned 1 / 4 may go bust as a result of coronavirus lockdown.
Lucie Tkadlecova, co-owner of the Uneticky brewery exterior Prague, stated manufacturing has plummeted to zero and gross sales to not a lot above that stage because the authorities shuttered pubs in the midst of the month.
The brewery gives take-away containers however promoting them to a wider market has proved difficult with supermarkets and on-line retailers having their arms full, she added.
“We tried to contact large supermarkets and e-shops however they’re all overwhelmed with the work of promoting merchandise they have already got,” she stated.
“If this goes on for much longer we should throw beer away.”
State-owned Budejovicky Budvar brewery stopped filling kegs however elevated orders for packaged beer has saved bottle and may strains buzzing, managing director Petr Dvorak advised Reuters.
Safeguarding the provision line additionally spurred a lot of particular measures, together with a requirement that exterior supply drivers take a temperature examine earlier than occurring to premises and stay within the truck whereas brewery staff load the beer.
Dvorak and others have religion that Czechs will nonetheless need a drink when pubs and beer gardens reopen however surprise what number of of their publicans can survive a chronic shutdown.
“I’m not frightened about Czechs not returning to the pubs and consuming beer,” he stated. “I’m extra frightened about what number of pubs will re-open.”
Reporting by Michael Kahn; Modifying by Keith Weir