Real ale and big business

Stroud Brewery's bottled organic selection, it's worth fighting for! Photo thanks to Stroud Brewery

The Campaign for Real Ales (CAMRA) launched back in July 2009 a “super-complaint” to the office of fair trading (OFT), stating that there is a need to “reform beer tie arrangements to prevent large companies exploiting tie arrangements that prevent tied publicans from buying beer on the open market at fair prices”.  They argued that anti-competitive practices are inflating pub beer prices by around 50 pence a pint, restricting consumer choice and leading to chronic underinvestment in the nation’s pubs.  I have blogged before about how 39 pubs a closing every week in the UK.  If what CAMRA alleges is true then we need reform of an entire sector. 

The appeal has been put on ice by the OFT until August 1st.  OFT, stated that they needed more time to hear evidence from large pub owning companies. Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive welcomes the investigation however considering it an opportunity for all parties to get involved and submit any evidence they have of uncompetitive behaviour. 

Mr. Benner goes on to argue quite effectively why we need such an investigation; he states: “It is enshrined in EU law that consumers must get a fair share of the benefits arising from exclusive purchasing deals such as the ‘beer tie’, but this is often not the case. We hope that the OFT will act to deliver a fair share for Britain’s 14 million regular pub goers. Reform of the ‘beer tie’ along with a framework of support from Government is urgently required to save the pub from extinction.” 

We will now have to wait and see until the summer what comes out of this process.  All we can do is ensure all those involved in the industry (not just the large companies who are set to lose out) are made aware of this review.  The future of one of Britain’s greatest treasures relies on it – the pub!

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Filed under Beer, EU politics, Food and Drink

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