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It turns out that the German beer industry suffers from small-scale production. There are 1,000 little local beer companies in Germany, shielded from competition with each other because each German brewery has virtually a local monopoly, and shielded from competition with imports. The United States has 67 major beer breweries, producing 23 billion liters of beer per year. Germany has 1,000 major beer breweries, producing only half as much beer per year as the United States. That's to say that the average brewery in the U.S. produces 31 times more beer than the average brewery in Germany.

That fact results from German local tastes and German government policies. German beer drinkers are fiercely loyal to their local brand of beer. And so there is no national brand of beer in Germany, analogous to Budweiser or Miller or Coors in the United States. Instead, most German beer is consumed within 30 miles of the place where it is brewed. And any of you who have been in Germany know that Germans love their local beer and loathe the beer that comes from next door. The result is that the German beer industry cannot profit from economies of scale. In the beer industry, as in other industries, production costs decrease greatly with size. The bigger the refrigerator unit for making the beer, and the longer the bottle-filling line, the cheaper is the cost of brewing beer. So these tiny German beer industries are relatively inefficient. There's no competition; there are just 1,000 local monopolies.

That outcome, of Germans having their local beer loyalties, is reinforced by German government law. The German government makes it hard for foreign beers to compete on the German market. The German government has so-called beer purity laws. The German government specifies exactly what can go into beer, and not surprisingly what can go into beer is what German breweries put into beer, and it's not what American, French, and Swedish breweries like to put into beer. So it's difficult for foreign breweries to compete on the German beer market. The result is that German beer is not exported very much. Any of you who like to buy Lowenbrau in the U.S. should look at the label in the supermarket: your U.S.-bought Lowenbrau is not brewed in Germany, it's brewed on license in the United States with American productivity and American efficiencies of scale.

The same inefficiency turns out to characterize some other German industries. The German soap industry and the German consumer electronics industry are also inefficient; their companies are not exposed to competition with each other, nor are they exposed to foreign competition, and so they do not acquire the best practices of international industry. But that disadvantage is not true for the German metal-producing industry or steel industry. There, big German companies compete with each other and they compete internationally, and therefore they are forced to acquire best international practices through competition.

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