A leading Scottish brewer has warned a “perfect storm” of pressures on the industry could see the average price of a pint soar to £7 in some cities.
Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon said the price explosion of raw ingredients including barley and wheat and a 3,000% increase in the cost of carbon dioxide meant was a bigger “challenge [for the industry] than the Covid pandemic”.
He said pressure resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coupled with currency and duty challenges and chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s freeze on alcohol duty had created a difficult environment for brewers to thrive.
Mr Mahon added that cost increase was likely to be passed on to drinkers at pubs across the country, with pint prices set to increase.
“I used to think ‘perfect storm’ was a cliche until we found ourselves slap bang in the middle of what the industry is facing right now,” he said.
“It is perhaps a greater long-term challenge than that created by rolling Covid lockdowns.
“From what we are seeing, the pressures on the industry with cost price inflation challenges and the chancellor’s scrapping of the alcohol duty freeze might make a £7 pint the norm rather than the exception in many places – particularly in bigger cities.
“This is bound to make a pint a relative luxury for a lot of people, something we should all be concerned about and force us all to take stock of the challenges facing the beer industry.”
Research by personal finance site Finder ranked Edinburgh as the most expensive place to enjoy a pint in Scotland – putting the average cost at around £4.55 in February.
Mr Mahon, who founded Brewgooder in 2016, said a potential “bright spot” for the industry could come in the form of the winter football World Cup, when thousands of drinkers are expected to pack into pubs for four weeks between November and December.
His comments came after figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed soaring costs for basic foodstuffs including bread and pasta amid the cost of living crisis.
Some of the cheapest available pasta in UK supermarkets had risen by 60% between September 2021 and 2022, ONS research found.
Jim Rowan, managing director at wholesaler Dunns Food and Drinks, said brewers’ production costs had already been hiked twice this year.
He said: “On average we expect a print of lager to go up by as much as 50p per pint. Premium beer by more.
“Pubs etc have been passing these increases on to the public and, so far, the consumer has been understanding. Like all products there is a glass ceiling which generally you can’t go through. It used to be £5 per pint, now it’s £6. £7 per pint in some cities is now in sight.”