UK beer sales grow for first time in a decade

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Sales of beer have rose for the first time in a decade
Sales of beer have rose for the first time in a decade

Related tags Alcoholic beverage Brewery

UK beer sales rose by 1.3% in 2014 ending a decade-long decline for the drink, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

The boost in beer sales followed “historic cuts” ​in the alcohol duty escalator by chancellor George Osborne in his March 2014 Budget.

The rise in sales in 2014 followed nine consecutive years of decline, which saw beer sales slide by 24% – with 6.7M fewer pints sold daily.


Huge tax rises were the major culprit, with a beer duty hike of 42% from 2008 to 2013, under the “disastrous”​ beer tax escalator policy, the BBPA claimed.

This sent the duty, plus the value-added tax on the duty, soaring from 42p to 65p on a typical pint. The period saw 7,000 pubs close, with 58,000 jobs lost, according to the BBPA.

Beer sales in pubs had begun to stabilise, showing a small decline of 0.8% in 2014, but this had been the smallest decline in sales since 1996, it added.

Beer facts

  • Almost 900,000 people work in the beer sector
  • 82%  of the beer sold in Britain is made in Britain
  • One job in brewing generates 18 jobs, in pubs, one in agriculture, one in the supply chain and one in retail
  • Seven in every 10 pub drinks sold is beer

According to BBPA data, off-trade sales grew by 3.5%, matching the growth of last year, and taking off-licence and retail sales above on-trade sales, for the first time on record.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “British beer is back in growth – and we want to keep it that way. But with 70% of pub drink sales being beer, the picture for our much loved pubs is still fragile.”

Simmonds said it was now “vital”​ that another alcohol duty cut was made by the chancellor in the Budget on March 18 2015.

Boost jobs

“It will build on the success of two very popular tax cuts in the past two years, and boost jobs in an industry that employs 900,000 people, almost half of whom are 16-24 year olds. That has got to be good news.”

The two one penny beer duty cuts had secured 16,000 UK jobs and led to beer price increases in pubs falling to their lowest since the 1980s, she claimed.

Britons paid 40% of all EU beer duties but drank just 12% of the beer, the BBPA claimed.

Meanwhile, Britain’s oldest brewery Shepherd Neame was ordered to pay more than £11,000 after a young worker severed a finger​ in unguarded machinery.

Related topics Drinks

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