01 May COVID-19: Pubs running low on certain beers after brewers underestimate post-lockdown demand | UK News
Pubs are running low on certain beers after brewers underestimated the level of demand following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Breweries are struggling to fulfil orders ahead of the bank holiday as groups of up to six people are now allowed to meet in beer gardens, the Financial Times reported.
Owners of pub chains have said they are working hard to secure supplies, particularly of craft beers and premium lagers, to meet the demand.
Some are said to be redirecting beer kegs to their busiest sites.
Phil Urban, chief executive of the UK’s largest listed public group Mitchells and Butlers, said “suppliers aren’t able to move quickly enough to keep up”.
Mr Urban continued: “We are seeing where our most successful businesses are, so we are quickly rerouting it to make sure we have the right beer in the right places.”
Budweiser, which brews Stella Artois and Camden Hells, has increased production to meet demand.
The company is focusing on premium products as drinkers treat themselves to expensive beers.
Jean-David Thumelaire, on-trade sales director Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, told Sky News: “Our teams have been preparing for weeks.
“Our three UK breweries operate around the clock, and we’re working hard to ensure demand from pubs can be met and fresh kegs can be delivered during this initial re-opening period.
“We haven’t seen significant shortages of our brands but we keep in close contact with our customers daily to support them in this dynamic re-opening period.”
Heineken underestimated demand for its Amstel and Birra Moretti brands – forcing it to limit supplies to three kegs per pub.
A Heineken spokesperson said: “Demand for premium pints continues to surpass our most optimistic forecasts. Despite only 40% of pubs being able to open outdoor areas, we are experiencing similar levels of sales as a normal April with all pubs being open.
“We’ve therefore had to temporarily limit the amount of Birra Moretti and Amstel that pubs can order. We’re working hard on a solution to meet demand – all our breweries are working flat out brewing beer and we’re connected with our breweries in other parts of Europe to import additional beer to the UK.”
Only about 40% of the UK’s 37,500 pubs have enough outside space to allow them to reopen since restrictions were eased.
This has resulted in drinkers wrapping up warm to drink in cold but bright and sunny weather.
Overall sales at trading pubs in the first week of reopening in England were almost 12% above 2019’s levels, according to Oxford Market Watch.
This is despite the fact the same venues had indoor spaces open and the period included the Easter bank holiday.
Mr Thumelaire said: “The reality came in three times above our expectations – nobody expected that . . . There is a first moment of euphoria happening now and we think it could last until restrictions are fully lifted.”
However, despite reports some suppliers are struggling to meet demand, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said there is still plenty of beer to go round.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, told Sky News: “There has been lots of enthusiasm to return to pubs, which is great news for our sector. It does mean that demand has been higher than expected.
“There is still plenty of beer to go round for everyone. Pub goers can rest assured they can still visit their local and enjoy a fresh pint!”