German Brewers Not So Pure?

The German brewers’ union may be trying to get the Reinheinsgebot recognised as an UNESCO world treasure, but it seems that some of their members’ business ethics are less than pure. Germany’s federal cartel office has fined four of the country’s largest brewers €106.5M for price fixing. The fines relate to the period 2006-2008 when managers of Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Warstenier & AB InBev conspired to rig the price of their products. It’s said that this price-fixing resulted in a country-wide rise of €5-€7 per hundred litres for barrelled beer and €1 per crate of bottled beer.
AB Inbev have had their fine suspended after turning stool pigeon and agreeing to bear witness against the other conspirators. In turn, they have also been co-operating with the investigation in hopes of having their share of the fine reduced. Enquiries into two other, unnamed, large breweries and four regional brewers are ongoing. This all comes at a difficult time for German brewing with the rising prices of raw ingredients, energy costs and the gradual decline in overall consumption: down almost a third in the last 40 years.

Of course there is growing innovation, like elsewhere, in smaller German breweries and the fines were welcomed by the Union for Private Breweries which represents their interests. Its director, Roland Demleitner, said that large brewery conglomerates were increasingly aggressive in their attempts to push smaller producers out of the shrinking market. He welcomed the fine as “an important consequence” and urged beer drinkers and bar owners to choose local beer over one from the largest producers.


RedNev said…
Wikipedia: "The Reinheitsgebot was introduced in part to prevent price competition with bakers for wheat and rye." So not really to do with purity.

If cake makers said that all you could use to make cakes was butter, eggs, milk, flour and sugar, we would regard that as incredibly stupid and boring.

As for their fiddling: expect a few financial slaps on the wrist, then business as usual.

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