Good Beer Guide launch
killing the British boozer
Astonishing statistics have been revealed by the 2009 Good Beer Guide to show just how supermarket discounts are hammering the embattled British pub. Supermarket beer prices have fallen by 1% in the past year while pub prices have increased by around 4%. Since 2002, off-trade beer prices have fallen by 7% while pub prices have increased by 24%.
In the guide, I argue that the government must act to stop this imbalance. The 36 pubs that close every week will become a much bigger figure unless action is taken. I believe the British government must follow the lead of the Scottish parliament that plans to introduce a minimum pricing policy for beer in the take-home market. To be effective, a unit of alcohol should cost between 35 and 40 pence -- at present it's just 26 pence in supermarkets.
As a result of the 10% beer duty increase in this year's Budget, prices in pubs have increased by 4.4% in the past year and the average price of a pub pint is now around £2.80. In contrast, prices in the off trade have fallen by a further 1% as a result of huge price promotions.
Following the Budget, one specialist off-trade chain, Bargain Booze, wrote to its suppliers and told them they must absorb the duty increase or the chain would refuse to deal with them. This shows the arm-lock that ruthless off-trade retailers have on the brewing industry.
*Sainsbury's: Foster's lager -- 3 cases of 440ml cans for £20. That's the equivalent of 57.4 pence a pint.
*Asda: John Smith's Smooth -- same price deal as for Foster's above.
*Morrisons: 24 cans of 440ml Stella Artois for £15.27 -- the equivalent of 77.9 pence a pint.
*Lidl: 8 cans of 440ml Carlsberg for £4.49 -- the equivalent of 56.9 pence a pint.
This is the economics of the mad house. Coors, brewers of Carling, have seen their profits halve in recent years. The reason is that the bulk of Carling's production is going to supermarkets, where it's sold cheaper than bottled water.
There's much talk of a British bank going bust as a result of global economic problems but there's equally the risk of a big brewer crashing. What is the point of brewing 2 million barrels of Carling a year if most of it is sold at cost?
Urgent action is needed to tackle the scandal of the supermarkets in order to save the traditional British pub.