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‘Supermarkets should stock local beers’
SUPERMARKETS must do more to support Britain’s microbreweries by stocking local beers in branches, argued an expert at a debate in York.
Nick Stafford, who runs Hambleton Ales in North Yorkshire and is also a national campaigner, said customers wanted to buy beers from local breweries when they went shopping but said many of the biggest chains were not supportive.
Speaking at a panel debate at the University of York’s Ron Cooke Hub, he said much of the focus among national campaigners was on protecting pubs, but he said brewers needed support in shops as well.
He said: “You cannot buck market trends – if research says people do not want to go the pub, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
He said supermarket chains were not focused on brewers and said: “Yes, we must support pubs but the bigger threat to the beer industry is supermarkets and convenience stores. People want to go local and buy local, so why can they not buy local beers?”
His comments were supported yesterday by Jane Blackman from Treboom Brewery, in Shipton-by-Beningbrough.
She said: “We would need to make huge volumes to justify the prices that they will buy beer from us for. It is not economically viable for us to do that. There are very few local breweries who will get their beer into supermarkets. The consumers want it but we are competing with the likes of the big breweries that can churn beer out in high volumes.”
The debate was held on Friday at the end of the Beeronomics conference at the university.
It included a panel of York’s MPs, Hugh Bayley and Julian Sturdy; the Campaign for Real Ale’s chief executive, Mike Benner; David Paterson, of Heineken UK, Andy Tighe from the British Beer and Pub Association and Mr Stafford, who runs his own brewery and is also the Society of Independent Breweries Association’s commercial director.
Mr Benner and the MPs stressed the importance of supporting pubs and Mr Bayley said 19 per cent of landlords who responded to a survey he carried out said they had taken legal advice on possible closure. He said he was glad the Government was taking action to help landlords adversely affected by the beer tie.
Mr Benner said it was a “national disgrace” that Heineken was chosen as the official beer of the 2012 London Olympics, saying British brewing as a whole should have been celebrated instead.
Mr Paterson said the overall beer market was declining but said his company was backing industry-wide efforts to promote pubs and beer in general.
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