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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Bengal faces shortage of beer as people search for relief from heat

Approximate demand in April at around 2.5 crore bottles

Snehamoy Chakraborty Calcutta Published 27.04.22, 02:26 AM
Boys enjoy a splash in a pond on Tuesday in Nadia where the mercury crossed 41°C during the day

Boys enjoy a splash in a pond on Tuesday in Nadia where the mercury crossed 41°C during the day Sourced by The Telegraph

Anyone planning to beat the heatwave with a bottle of beer is likely to be disappointed as Bengal is facing an unprecedented supply crisis.

Sources in BEVCO, the state corporation which has monopoly in the supply of alcoholic beverages in the state, said the crisis of beer started last week and reached its peak on Sunday when the mercury touched 40°C at many places and the demand for beer doubled.

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According to BEVCO sources, the routine monthly demand of beer during the summer, till last year, hovered around 1.8 crore bottles in the whole state.

Since March this year, the demand started increasing rapidly and now the approximate demand in April is around 2.5 crore bottles.

“There are three major brewers in Bengal producing beer at the peak of their capacity but that is not enough. Some beer companies are importing beer from breweries in other states but that’s also not enough too at a time the mercury is around 40°C,” said a senior BEVCO official, adding that there was little they could do to augment supply.

An excise department official said another reason for the high demand was the recent 30 per cent slash in the price of beer.

“Those who earlier used to buy one bottle of beer are now buying two,” he said.

A delay in the production schedule of beer is the other reason behind the supply crisis, added a BEVCO official.

“Actually, brewers started production of beer from December and January and they stockpiled around 24 lakh bottles before the season of beer... They delayed the production because of market conditions of the last two years when the demand was low,” he said.

A senior official of one of the brewing units in Bengal said they didn’t start early production this year in view of their experience in the last two years. “We incurred huge losses owing to the lockdown and Covid-19 curbs. Thousands of beer bottles crossed their expiry dates... So we didn’t start early production,” he said.

A youth from Bankura — a district which witnessed the state’s highest temperature on Monday — bought three bottles of beer by paying Rs 70 extra per bottle.

“What can I do? Sshops ran out of beer... A friend of mine had come and I had to pay extra to a bootlegger,” he said.

A liquor shop owner in Bolpur decided to sell beer only to his regular customers after realising that some people were taking the advantage of the shortage. “Some people bought beer in bulk from my shop and sold them at a premium... My regular customers began complaining,” said the shop owner who added that he got only 2,400 bottles of beer from BEVCO against his usual weekly demand of 8,000 bottles in summer.

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