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French brewers forced to destroy 10m litres of beer

French brewers will be forced to destroy at least 10 million litres of spoiled beer as a result of bars and restaurants being closed during two months of Covid-19 confinement.

In a statement this week, professional association Brasseurs de France, which has 300 industry members, said: “The brutal closure of cafés and restaurants; stopping tourist activities, and the cancellation of all of our festivals and shows has left 10 million litres of beer, mainly in barrels, languishing.”

The main reason for much of the destruction is because current popular beer, such as craft varieties - as opposed to more mainstream, “blonde” beer - is often non-pasteurised, and therefore spoils more easily.

The group added: “These are very hoppy beers, and if we keep them for too long - after two or three months' storage - the nose and the taste, the flavour…[it] disappears.”

It continued: “The destruction of this beer will have a not-negligible cost on businesses.”

The 10 million destroyed litres will represent a cost of several million euros, and a significant loss for businesses that are already financially fragile, the union said.

It is now calling for financial aid to help support small brewers, similar to that claimed by winemakers from the European Union for the wine industry.

The association has undertaken its own research into the current state of the industry after almost two months of confinement.

It found that around 25% of breweries had been forced to stop production due to a lack of demand. It also said: “70% of breweries have declared a loss of 50% in business, or more, since March 15.”

Confinement will start to be lifted from Monday May 11 in France, but restaurants, cafés and bars will not reopen straight away, and are likely to remain shut until at least June, according to the government's plans.

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