Pubs hit by new year price rises

Brewers blame growing costs for 5p a pint wholesale hike

BREWERS have unveiled their wholesale beer price increases for 2013 – leaving operators in a dilemma over whether to put up prices at a traditionally quiet time of year for the trade.

Molson Coors and Carlsberg were the first of the major brewers to put through wholesale price increases for the new year. The Carling owner broke first, upping its prices by an average of 3.1% (equal to £15 on a barrel, or 5p on a pint, of Carling) from January 14, followed by Carlsberg, which added 5p a pint to its wholesale beer prices on Monday (January 21).
Heineken UK is also set to add the equivalent of 5p a pint to its draught and packaged products from February 4, which will increase the wholesale cost of a barrel of Foster’s lager by £14.30. AB InBev confirmed it will increase its wholesale prices across all of its brands, which include Stella Artois and Budweiser, by 4.7% from February 1, while Diageo is set to add 5% to Guinness and Red Stripe from the same date.
Belhaven owner Greene King said it will review prices in March. Tennent Caledonian said it was unable to comment when contacted by SLTN.
Brewers have cited the rising cost of raw materials, energy, packaging and distribution – coupled with the duty escalator – for the increases, which are less than the 7p a pint increase implemented by most of the major brewers last January.
Operators contacted by SLTN said they have little choice but to absorb the extra cost in the short-term.
At Cheers in Fraserburgh, whose main beer suppliers are Molson Coors and Tennent’s, the cost of a pint is to be frozen at £3 for standard lager and £3.30 for premium brands.
“The last thing customers want in January is the price of a pint to go up,” owner Dennis Forsyth told SLTN.
Neil Connolly, who owns Glasgow bar Moskito, said he plans to freeze current prices, which stand at £3.50 for a pint of Tennent’s.
“There’s no way I can put prices up just now,” he said.
Neil Morrison, who owns Macgochans in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, told SLTN he intends to absorb the extra cost for now. Morrison, whose main draught beer supplier is Heineken UK, said he will freeze prices at £3 a pint for standard lager and £3.60 for premium brands for the time being.
“When everyone is fighting for business at the moment, it’s very hard to put prices up,” he said. “It doesn’t help when customers see supermarket prices are so much cheaper.”