Now Tesco banishes beers after price rise
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.’