Metro cans beer sales

Related tags Soft drink Sales

Metro, Germany's largest food retailer, is the latest to stop
selling beer in small cans and bottles in a bid to avoid the high
cost of implementing a new recycling scheme for such products. Beer
sales in Germany are likely to be heavily impacted by the decision.

Metro​ has become the latest German retail group to stop selling beer in non-recyclable containers after the government there introduced a new recycling law in January obliging retailers to charge a deposit on such products.

Metro is Germany's largest food retailer, and the decision will have a major impact on beer producers there - unless they are able to sell their products in other types of containers or different size formats.

"One-way bottles and cans subject to the payment of a compulsory deposit will be removed from the shelves,"​ Metro said in a statement, adding that the move would affect carbonated soft drinks and mineral water as well as beer.

The chain said the decision had been taken because collecting the deposit of 25c-50c on each bottle or can, and returning the bottle or can to claim the deposit back, had proved to be "uneconomical and tedious for the customers"​.

Although beer sales will clearly be hit by the decision to withdraw non-recyclable bottles and cans from Metro's shelves, the fact of the matter is that sales were already falling sharply because of consumer apathy and confusion.

Although larger PET and glass bottles have long been subject to the deposit system in Germany - but with a 10c deposit, rather than 25c - the new law means that smaller bottles and cans are now also subject to the scheme. But since the cans or small bottles have to be taken back to the store where they were bought - a costly, time-consuming and, to most consumers, pointless exercise - retailers will have to invest heavily in new recycling systems.

Metro, along with many other retailers, was not prepared to invest in such a scheme, especially since consumers have turned away from smaller packaging formats in their droves since the law was introduced, preferring instead to simply not sell such products.

The likelihood is that brewers and soft drink manufacturers will now have to look for alternative packaging formats in Germany, with many people seeing this as the opportunity for PET to really make inroads into the beer sector there. PET has long been shunned by the brewing industry, not least because of question marks over its permeability (since letting air into the beer would do nothing to improve its taste), but major advances in the quality of PET, combined with consumers seeking alternatives to cans, may be just the opening PET needs.

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