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Dying industry? German coffin makers appeal for govt support to shield from foreign competition during Covid-19 pandemic

Dying industry? German coffin makers appeal for govt support to shield from foreign competition during Covid-19 pandemic
Coffin manufacturers in Germany say they’re struggling to make money despite serving a crucial public health role, because the market has been flooded with cheaper imports from Eastern Europe.

The country’s casket producers are calling for financial aid to help prop up Germany’s dwindling coffin making industry, while pointing out that safe and hygienic burials are particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just 20 percent of the 950,000 caskets needed annually in Germany are made there, with local producers saying the market has been flooded by cheaper imports from Eastern Europe.

The Federal Association for Funeral Services has requested the government reintroduce the “death benefit” payment from statutory health insurance, which was abolished in 2003. In its last year, the scheme – which helped pay funeral costs – amounted to around €800 million.

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According to the association, there are just 15 coffin makers still running in Germany, producing around 200,000 each year. “A coffin is required for each of the approximately 2,600 deceased people every day – even if they are cremated,” said the group’s chairman, Jurgen Stahl.

He added that while coffins were not “currently in short supply,” they could become so because “like all other goods, the supply chains are threatened by a global pandemic.”

As a result, Stahl called for the government to help reverse the trend for foreign-made coffins and support German manufacturers, saying they could be “indispensable” in ensuring that people can be buried “promptly, hygienically and with dignity.”

Further compounding the coffin makers’ woes has been the importing of cheaper funeral linen from Asia.

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By contrast, producers in France have seen a major uptick in their output due to the tragically increased demand. One French company has reportedly upped production by 50 coffins per day since the outbreak of the virus.

The German government, which has been one of the most successful in containing the virus, has already set out plans to spend an extra €125 billion to mitigate the financial damage caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

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