50 Million Pints Of Beer To Go To Waste?
If pubs stay closed into the summer months because of the pandemic, it’s thought that some 50 million pints of beer could go unused, with businesses now unable to sell their stock except for providing takeaways and home deliveries.
Speaking to the BBC, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) Tom Stainer observed just how sad the situation is and what a waste it is of the work and talent that goes into making beer.
He estimates that the 39,000 pubs in the UK have, on average, 15 barrels in the cellars at any one time, with the majority being kegs that hold 88 pints each. Some of them will also be real ales that come in 72-pint casks.
Where pasteurised beer is concerned, and the majority of lagers as well, best-before dates are typically three to four months after delivery. For unpasteurised beer and real ales, this is between six and nine weeks. If social distancing goes on for a few more months, the majority of stock would go to waste as a result.
Many of the breweries and distributors in the country have offered to take barrels back at no charge after lockdown restrictions have been lifted, which should take some financial pressure off publicans.
But in the meantime, what can be done about the millions of pints of beer that are likely to go to waste? The British Institute of Innkeeping is advising landlords to avoid pouring out-of-date beer down storm drains because it could leave them even more out of pocket.
The government has now implemented temporary rules to allow brewers to appoint landlords who can oversee the dumping of beer but proper records must be kept, which could include providing video evidence that the beer has been destroyed, instead of set aside for profit.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “Pubs are at the heart of our communities and an important part of local economies.
“We’ve asked them to temporarily close in order to help protect people and reduce the spread of the virus. But we are also delivering support to help businesses, including pubs, through the coronavirus pandemic.”
New research from UHY Hacker Young shows that even before the pandemic crisis, the hospitality industry was already in a long-term slump – so the current situation is certainly not going to be helping businesses around the UK.
Last year, 1,452 restaurants and 526 pubs went insolvent, both seeing a rise of ten per cent when compared to 2018.
Partner Peter Kubik said of the pandemic: “There are few sectors that are going to be more heavily impacted than pubs and small restaurants. Most businesses can shift their staff to home working or sell through the internet. Clearly, that is not possible for pubs.
“For those restaurants that decide to carry on selling takeaway food they face the problem of having to give delivery companies a very large percentage of their remaining income. Both the pub and restaurant industry feel they need more specific assistance from the government.”
He went on to add that some smaller businesses may also worry that banks will opt to lend to the bigger and better capitalised companies, those that may well be less in need of an emergency loan.
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