Limited choice of beers hits consumers

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The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has accused the big pub companies of failing to meet the needs of consumers by limiting the choice of beers...

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has accused the big pub companies of failing to meet the needs of consumers by limiting the choice of beers in their pubs.

The attack comes as SIBA confirmed it had failed so far in its campaign to secure distribution for beers produced by small brewers through the large pub chains.

Nick Stafford, of Hambleton Ales based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, has been heading the SIBA Access To Market initiative which aims to secure wider beer distribution for SIBA members.

But Mr Stafford told The Publican Newspaper last week that most large operators had so far declined to stock SIBA beers.

The only company which has agreed to include a range of the ales is Unique.

Mr Stafford said: "The pubcos just can't be bothered and it's the consumer that loses out in the end."

SIBA is calling on the government to look at the position of the large pub companies within the pub market. It claims their failure to stock small ale brands is excluding small brewers from the market and could lead to closure for some SIBA members.

Mr Stafford said: "I don't favour government intervention. All I want is government action to prevent the consumer being disadvantaged. The situation we had in 1989 with the big brewers has now been completely repeated with the pubcos - they dominate the market."

SIBA is planning a national campaign to raise awareness of the many beers brewed by small local breweries so that consumers demand a wider choice of products on the bar.

A spokesman for Punch Pub Company said: "We have an ale-spotting scheme in place at the moment which features SIBA member products.

"A new cask ale scheme will come into effect in the summer using Carlsberg-Tetley and Bass distribution networks, which will also feature SIBA member products alongside other breweries beers.

"We have no intention of trading exclusively with SIBA members to the detriment of non-SIBA members who produce excellent cask ale products."

Nick Bishop, marketing director at Unique Pub Company, said: "We just thought it was a really good idea and was something that would differentiate our pubs. It is a real talking point if you go into a pub with a speciality ale like Old Growler for example. Even if you wouldn't normally drink it you might well try it.

"It does take a lot of effort and money on our part - and I know SIBA has put a lot of effort in at its end - but we feel that as far as marketing our pubs goes it is essential."

Related topics: Beer

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