Home » Chopfab in financial distress: “Many small breweries are struggling”

Chopfab in financial distress: “Many small breweries are struggling”

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Chopfab in financial distress: “Many small breweries are struggling”

Published14. February 2024, 6:22 p.m

Beer market: Chopfab in financial distress: “Many small breweries are struggling”

Inflation is causing beer consumption to shrink. Consumers primarily resort to promotions. Many breweries are now threatened with extinction.

von20 Minuten/Taddeo Cerletti

Chopfab Boxer: That’s what it’s about

  • The Chopfab Boxer brewery is having money problems.

  • Because people have to save money, beer consumption is decreasing.

  • Further takeovers and closures are likely to follow.

Since its founding twelve years ago, Winterthur-based Chopfab Boxer AG has grown from a trendy brewery to one of the largest independent Swiss beer brands.

Just last year, the company invested millions in the production facility in Winterthur-Grüze. But now it is in financial trouble due to rising interest rates and is hoping for money from the Appenzell brewery Locher.

Can small breweries not survive if they get too big? A few beer giants share the global market; in Switzerland, too, many beer brands now belong to large breweries such as Carlsberg and Heineken.

“You have to compensate for growth with mass”

It’s a balancing act for breweries when they get bigger, says beer coach and sommelier Gregor Völkening to 20 Minutes: “With rapid growth, the amortization costs increase, the sales channels via beverage retailers, supermarkets and restaurants become larger and put pressure on the price , which reduces profits. You have to compensate for that with mass.”

However, a takeover is not mandatory if growth is healthy. Völkening also doesn’t believe that there will be as many mergers of breweries as in the 1990s. “Locher shows that small Swiss breweries can grow strongly.”

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Large breweries rely on promotions

But business is difficult at the moment. Recently, the breweries have been struggling with higher prices for raw materials and glass bottles and now the consumption of alcoholic beverages is declining, among other things because of noticeable inflation. Customers react sensitively to increased costs for rents and health insurance premiums, says Stefan Müller, founder of the Drinks of the World company, to 20 minutes.

The Swiss Brewery Association confirmed the decline upon request (see box). People are buying less and are more likely to take advantage of promotions, as Müller says. “Because everyone wants to sell in large volumes, the large breweries rely on promotions and therefore make even less profit.”

According to initial calculations, the entire Swiss beer market recorded a decline of 2.5 percent in the 2022/23 brewing year compared to the same period last year, says Christoph Lienert, deputy director of the Swiss Brewery Association. “Fears of inflation, rising health insurance premiums, high energy costs and the uncertain geopolitical situation are putting pressure on consumer sentiment,” says Lienert.

Small breweries in particular are now having problems because their beer tends to be in the upper price range. “Many are fighting hard now. There is probably a small correction in the market now. But in Switzerland the density of breweries is also one of the highest in the world,” says Müller. Karl Locher from the Locher Brewery also said in an interview with 20 Minutes that small breweries are having a hard time.

Do you or does someone you know have problems with alcohol?

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there-zhcontact point for relatives addiction

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