Now Tesco ban­ishes beers af­ter price rise

Daily Mail - - News - By Sean Poulter Con­sumer Af­fairs Editor s.poulter@dai­ly­

POP­U­LAR beer brands such as Am­s­tel and Sol are be­ing axed by Tesco af­ter the brew­ing gi­ant Heineken an­nounced price rises.

It fol­lows a row last year which saw the supermarket run­ning short of Mar­mite in a stand- off with its maker Unilever – which blamed the Brexit vote for in­creas­ing costs.

Other Heineken brands be­ing pulled from Tesco shelves in­clude Tiger, Birra Moretti and King­fisher. Ranges sold un­der names such as Foster’s, John Smith’s, Kro­nen­bourg, Des­per­a­dos and Heineken it­self will also be re­duced.

In ad­di­tion, cider brands made by Heineken in­clud­ing Bul­mers and Old Mout will be scaled back.

The Dutch brewer put up the whole­sale price it charges pubs by the equiv­a­lent of 6p a pint in Jan­uary. It cited ris­ing costs that it was no longer able to ab­sorb.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts be­lieve Tesco de­cided to cut the Heineken range rather than ac­cept sim­i­lar price rise de­mands.

Nei­ther Tesco nor Heineken would con­firm this, but the supermarket’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Dave Lewis has pre­vi­ously warned that he will chal­lenge any com­pany de­mand­ing in­creases.

The brewer has not specif­i­cally blamed the fall in the pound fol­low­ing the Brexit vote for its price rises, in­stead cit­ing ‘pre­vail­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions’. In fact, the re­cent cur­rency fluc­tu­a­tions should only be a small fac­tor.

For, de­spite the for­eign ori­gins of many of the brands, most are made in Heineken’s UK brew­eries from largely Bri­tish in­gre­di­ents. The num­ber of Heineken prod­ucts Tesco sells will fall from 53 at the start of the year to just 22.

The Gro­cer mag­a­zine said: ‘Tesco has stopped stock­ing mul­ti­packs of Heineken lager bot­tles, and the larger mul­ti­packs of cans. The Foster’s range has also been dec­i­mated. Foster’s is only avail­able in four-packs and twenty-packs of 440ml Foster’s lager cans, with Foster’s Gold, Radler and Rocks all dropped. Cider brands have also been clob­bered.’

Data from re­tail an­a­lyst Brand-View sug­gests Heineken has al­ready pushed through higher prices in su­per­mar­kets and of­fli­cences, the mag­a­zine added. This found av­er­age prices to be 7 per cent higher than a year ago.

A Tesco spokesman in­sisted the de­ci­sion to cut Heineken prod­ucts was part of a rou­tine re­view, adding: ‘We con­tinue to of­fer cus­tomers a great range of beer, lager and cider.’

At the same time as dump­ing big brands the supermarket has in­tro­duced new craft beers, which have proved pop­u­lar.

Last year David Forde, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Heineken UK, played down the im­pact of the Brexit vote on costs, say­ing: ‘We pro­duce the vast ma­jor­ity of all our beer and cider in the UK. If you make your prod­uct in pounds and you sell it in pounds it doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally be­come harder.’

The firm re­fused to say whether it had asked Tesco for price rises, adding: ‘We don’t com­ment on com­mer­cial ar­range­ments.’

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