The energy crisis is also affecting our breweries: it is causing supply bottlenecks for carbon dioxide. The first companies are already stopping their production. And the shortage can become a problem for the entire industry.

Germany is running out of carbon dioxide. Numerous breweries are currently struggling with bottlenecks. They face existential problems because they cannot produce any drinks without the gas. Some companies, such as the Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren, have already stopped producing lemonade. The traditional Riegele brewery from Augsburg, which is known for “Spezi” among other things, is also facing major bottlenecks and is warning of possible production stops.

Medium-sized breweries that produce both lemonade and beer are currently particularly affected by the shortage, explains Maximilian Liebhart, master brewer at the Tölzer Mühlfeldbräu.

When asked by FOCUS online, Sebastian Priller-Riegele, managing director of the Riegele brewery in Augsburg, explained that the carbonic acid was particularly important in the production of lemonades in order to produce the carbonation. In the case of beer, carbonic acid is produced during the brewing process, but the gas is also needed to press it into bottles or kegs.

But the crisis does not stop at the breweries, Priller-Riegele explains: “In the meat industry, dairies or other companies in the food industry, it is used as a protective gas for packaging food.” There are no alternatives.

A spokesman for the Industrial Gases Association (IGV) confirms that the lack of CO2 deliveries is a problem for the entire food industry. Because all products that have to be transported chilled – fresh food, for example – are usually chilled with dry ice. But the manufacturers need liquefied CO2 for this and are therefore just as affected by the bottlenecks of the suppliers as the breweries.

The IGV spokesman also explains to FOCUS online that not only the food industry relies on dry ice for cooling: medicines and vaccines in particular are often cooled with dry ice. In the meat industry, on the other hand, CO2 is used to stun animals during the slaughtering process. And in the agricultural industry, the gas is used in greenhouses to encourage the growth of plants. Should the shortage continue, this would have far-reaching consequences for many companies.

According to brewery boss Priller-Riegele, the so-called “pure” CO2 or technical carbonic acid, which is required in food production, is produced, especially in ammonia production. This in turn is mainly needed for the production of fertilizer. However, ammonia is also a precursor of AdBlue, another scarce additive for diesel vehicles and trucks to render pollutants harmless. But the production of fertilizers is shut down in the summer anyway. In addition, many manufacturers such as Linde or Air Liquide have cut back their production or even stopped it completely due to the exorbitant rise in gas prices.

In the case of the breweries, the bottlenecks are mainly related to the “just in time” production model, reports the “SWR”. Many breweries produce in such a way that they can then deliver directly. Manufacturers often try to avoid storage costs. However, this has the consequence that the tanks filled with carbonic acid are often almost empty when new deliveries arrive.

But because many suppliers now have to supply both breweries and other sectors of the economy, they have “cited force majeure to discontinue their delivery obligations or sell their remaining small amounts to customers at horrendously high prices,” writes Priller-Riegele. Another problem with the suppliers: returnable bottles for the transport of CO2 are missing. For this reason, the Radeberger Group announced at the beginning of September that it would increase its prices.

In the worst case, this means for the breweries: production stops or the discontinuation of individual parts of the range, according to the Riegele boss. Gottfried Csauth, managing director of the affected Aktienbrauerei Kaufbeuren, says that if he can no longer produce lemonade, it becomes “critical” because this accounts for a large part of sales. “With all the rising energy costs, it’s a bottomless pit,” says Csauth. What exactly threatens the Kaufbeuren brewery is currently not clear. “Maybe I have to send people on short-time work again”

The brewery boss is very concerned about the inaction of politics. “The government should wake up,” says Csauth. “If something doesn’t happen quickly that the government supports small and medium-sized businesses and curbs costs, then I don’t know what will happen to us.”

Priller-Riegele is also calling for measures to increase ammonia production: “One of the ways this can be achieved is by curbing energy costs. Either a change in the pricing model on the electricity market or financial subsidies for fertilizer manufacturers, for example in the form of lowering gas prices.”

Despite this worrying development, the all-clear has been given for the time being – at least when it comes to beer: Because most breweries, especially small breweries or large breweries, can continue to produce and bottle it. The Oktoberfest beer for the Oktoberfest, which will start on Saturday, was also brewed and bottled months earlier by the Munich breweries. So people don’t have to worry about this.

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