E-Malt. E-Malt.com News article: UK: Pub bosses accusing big breweries of failing to pass on lower production costs to consumers

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E-Malt.com News article: UK: Pub bosses accusing big breweries of failing to pass on lower production costs to consumers
Brewery news

Bitter pub bosses are accusing big breweries of ripping off beer drinkers by failing to pass on lower production costs.

The bosses hit out as three giant brewers said ale and lager prices would rise, though ingredients and delivery are cheaper, the Sunday People reports.

They say Britain’s major beer firms have cynically put 10p on a pint while also demanding the Chancellor cut beer duty in next month’s Budget.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Real Ale’s latest figures show an average of 27 pubs shut a week, hit by changes in drinking habits, supermarket competition and the smoking ban.

An open letter to George Osborne from eight pub operators ­complain of “unjustified” price hikes and say brewers have not passed on previous 1p a pint cuts in duty.

“You will have no doubt spotted the trick here,” it said. “Brewers impose increases every January and then ask the Government to reduce duty in March to mitigate the outcry.

“If they really cared about jobs in the sector – and if they really had any influence over it – they would be holding or reducing prices.

“Worse still, they’re not saving a single pub with their actions. None of the duty cuts are making their way into voters’ pockets.”

The letter added: “We’re operating in a low inflation and low interest environment.

“Against these economic factors, one might reasonably ask why we did not see brewer price reductions in order to encourage job opportunity and investment.”

One of the signatories, Paul Wigham, of pub chain All Our Bars, said: “First they raised prices in January then they start a campaign to reduce duty.

“Obviously we want duty cuts because it reduces prices and influences demand. If brewers want to stimulate demand then they should reverse their price increases and ask for a duty decrease too.”

Even a small wholesale rise could put 5p to 10p on a pint. The current average is £3.26 for a pint of lager, £3.10 for bitter.

Breweries say the price rise, to pay for investment, has been kept to a minimum.

A British Beer and Pub Association, representing brewers, said: “We believe there is concrete evidence that duty cuts have been passed on.

“Yes, prices will go up at different breweries but if you look at the overall market, duty cuts are being passed on. Our own estimate is that beer prices would have been 20p a pint more expensive if duty cuts had not been in place.”

Camra on February 26 accused pubs of inflating the cost of half pints, penalising customers trying to drink responsibly.

02 March, 2016

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