Big brewers ‘deferring annual beer price hike’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Delayed decision: while an annual review of beer prices normally takes place in January, a number of brewers have postponed this until later in the year for 2021
Delayed decision: while an annual review of beer prices normally takes place in January, a number of brewers have postponed this until later in the year for 2021

Related tags Beer Heineken Carlsberg Molson coors Greene king Diageo

Most brewers are postponing beer price increases until later in the year, The Morning Advertiser (MA) can reveal.

Previously, brewers have increased beer prices towards the start of the year, which has tended to be in line with inflation.

This year, The MA ​understands, Heineken will be increasing its prices on draught products from April with rises ranging from 2.8% to 4.5%.

Heineken UK on-trade director Stephen Watt said: “Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to help pubs and bars through the most difficult trading period in generations and get them back on their feet, serve communities and be viable once again.

“It’s been a challenging time for the industry, but we have supported customers by absorbing costs related to restocking and maintaining workable cellars, investing in practical support and creating safe environments, while also offering a number of deferred or cancelled payments.

“With the dispensing of the vaccines, we anticipate pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to start to return to more normalised trading levels during the second quarter."

Defer implementation

He added: “As part of our annual review of prices, we are therefore informing customers of our intention to increase prices on draught beer and cider.

“We acknowledge however, that in the early part of the year, trading is likely to remain suppressed and so have decided to defer the implementation of any increase to 1 April 2021. In addition, we will not increase prices on packaged products.

“We will continue to work with our customers and support them as trading resumes.”

The Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company outlined its stance on beer prices for 2021 in light of the pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “Given the ongoing closure of pubs and the uncertainty currently faced by the sector, we have not made any decision on pricing and will review this once there is greater clarity on when restrictions across the trade may be lifted or reduced.”

Brand owner of drinks such as Coors, Blue Moon and Carling, Molson Coors Beverage Company isn’t looking to raise prices at present.

Postponed and under review

UK on-trade director Martyn Cozens said: “We normally review our beer prices in early January however in light of the current challenges facing the sector, this has been postponed and is currently under review.

“Our priority is supporting our customers to help them through the pandemic and beyond. This is why we have been working closely with the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) to campaign for a fair and evidence-based roadmap to reopen hospitality and are urging the Government to commit to an extension of the 5% VAT rate to all drinks sold in pubs and to cutting beer duty.

“We have also worked closely with the industry to reactivate the ‘Return Your Beer’ website, which has enabled licensees to destroy beer on site and claim credit in line with HMRC guidelines.”

The MA ​understands Diageo, which has brands including Guinness and Hop House 13 Lager, has no plans to increase prices.

Similarly, it is understood pub operator and brewer Greene King has not yet made a decision about beer prices.

The MA ​also contacted Budweiser Brewing Group but had not received a response at the time of publication.

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