Pub and brewery chiefs have warned that up to 70 million pints of beer could go to waste as pubs lie empty during the coronavirus lockdown.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBP) said it was a “great shame” vast quantities of British beer would go off before pubs were able to reopen under the government’s plans.
The government’s exit strategy from the lockdown puts pubs, restaurants and bars low on the priority list, with concerns over virus risks meaning no reopening until 4 July at the very earliest.
Social distancing rules are expected to be ordered if they do reopen, significantly limiting customer numbers and leaving many pubs unviable without continued government support. Consumers are also expected to be reluctant to socialise in large groups, meaning a “double hit” for pubs, according to the BBPA.
“The need to destroy so much beer really shows how much our brewing and pub sectors have been affected by this crisis,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, a leading industry body.
She said some unsold beer could be used for animal feed and to create organic fertiliser for farming, however. Thousands of pubs and brewers have begun selling takeaway and delivery services for beer, other drinks and food, but most are shut and are battling to survive.
McClarkin called for extra cash for the industry, particularly for firms unable to reopen. “many more of our nation’s pubs and the brewers that supply them with beer will struggle to survive closure and beyond.”
She warned last week up to 15,000 pubs could be permanently shut if the government does not allow reopening before the end of September.
But beer chiefs have welcomed the announcement of a government-led taskforce for the sector this week.