Drift away from pubs continues

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcohol consumption, Alcoholic beverage

Britain's alcohol consumption fell last year for the first time since 1998, while the off-trade's share of the market continued to grow. These are...

Britain's alcohol consumption fell last year for the first time since 1998, while the off-trade's share of the market continued to grow.

These are among the key findings of the British Beer & Pub Association's (BBPA) Statistical Handbook 2006, which also shows that UK tax on beer is among the highest in Europe.

The book says UK alcohol consumption per head dipped by 1.6% last year. And beer remains Britain's favourite alcoholic drink, accounting for 43% of the market.

But the steady shift away from on-trade sales has continued, with 41% of Britain's beer now bought in shops and supermarkets. In 2000, the figure was 33% and in 1998, 30%.

BBPA director of communications Mark Hastings said: "Our drinking patterns are certainly changing.

"Though the numbers show a fall in total consumption on the previous year, it is the increase in drink bought for consumption at home that tells the real story of the nation's changing drinking habits."

Tax accounts for 31% of the final price of a British pint - more than three times the EU average. Only Finland and Ireland pay more beer tax.

Income from excise duties and VAT from alcohol reached nearly £14bn

in 2005/2006 - taxes on Britain's beer alone raised


Hastings said: "With the handbook highlighting the enormous variety of drinking habits and tax regimes across the European Union, this certainly raises questions for Brussels over the viability of an EU alcohol policy."

The BBPA guide is available for £47.50 from the association's website at


The brewing and drinks market landscape at a glance

The average price of a pint of lager in a managed pub increased by 8p to £2.42 between 2004 and 2005. A pint of bitter rose 10p to £2.13.

Draught beer's share of the market continued to shrink - down more than 10% in the past 10 years. It accounted for 54.7% in 2005, compared to 62.1% in 2000 and 65.7% in 1995.

The number of UK breweries increased while the number of traditional, older breweries continues to fall. There were 656 breweries in 2005 - up 80 in a year - and 55 operating breweries that were established before 1971 - down five in one year.

Seven hundred fewer UK pubs were owned by pub companies in 2005 than 2004 - the number fell to 31,000. The number of managed outlets fell 500 to 7,500, with tenanted and leased pubs showing reductions of 200 to stand at 23,500.

The number of pubs owned by brewers increased from 8,900 in 2004 to 9,400 in 2005 - a rise of 6%. The number of those operating as managed outlets stayed the same at 2,700, while the tenancies and leasedholds increased from 6,200 to 6,700 - showing the trend of pubs transferring from managed to tenanted.

Standard lager is the sole beer sector to see its market share increase - from 25.2% to 25.5% between 2004 and 2005. Standard bitter's share fell the sharpest - down 0.9% to 13.7%.

Cider sales increased 6% between 2004 and 2005, to 5,267,600 hectolitres.

Sales of packaged cider increased 8% - showing the impact of

Magners on the market.

UK consumption of spirits

fell 3% between 2005/2006 and the preceding year. UK consumption of wine increased less than 2% in the same period.

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