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Slump in pound could push up price of pint, says brewery boss

Many hops used by UK brewers are imported (Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company/PA)
Many hops used by UK brewers are imported (Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company/PA)

The price of a pint could rise as a result of the falling pound, the boss of one of the UK’s biggest brewers has warned.

Paul Davies, chief executive officer of the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, said the pound’s slide to a record low was “worrying” for the beer sector.

The pound tumbled to its lowest level against the US dollar since decimalisation in 1971 in the early hours of Monday, falling by more than 4% to 1.03 dollars after trading opened in Asia.

The pound has regained slightly since but remains at its lowest levels for decades.

Experts warned the pound’s plunge towards parity with the dollar would send the cost of goods soaring even higher, potentially worsening the cost-of-living crisis.

Products imported into the UK, such as those used by the food and drink sector, would be more expensive and could lead to price increases being passed on to customers.

Mr Davies told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the drop was “worrying” for the British beer industry, which imports beer and hops.

PA infographic showing pound v dollar
(PA Graphics)

Asked if the value of the pound mattered, he said: “Yes it does, many of the hops used in this country are actually imported and a lot of them, particularly for craft brewers, are imported from the States.

“Changes in currency is actually worrying for industry, and then of course people drink a lot of imported beers from Europe, and the euro versus the pound is also something we’re watching very closely at the moment.”

The pound was also lower against the euro on Monday morning, having fallen by about 6% against the eurozone currency over the past month.

When asked about potential price increases, the boss said: “Of course things will rise.

“I would say as an industry we’re generally using British barley and we’re using a lot of British hops, but of course if you’re drinking double IPA that requires a lot of Citra hop and other hops from the States, at some point that is going to have to be passed through to both the customer and the consumer if prices are this volatile.”

Experts at Kantar said grocery inflation increased by 12.4% in August as the food and drink industry had already come under pressure from energy cost increases.

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer of Aldi, said it had products which were influenced by currency shifts but said it was “too early” to say if the pound’s fall would result in higher prices.

“Around 75% of what we sell comes from the British Isles so we are somewhat protected,” he said.

“We are insulated through longer-term agreements as well but do have products, such as general merchandise from Asia, which is bought in dollars from Asia.

“Right now though, we are looking to understand what any impact would be but think it is too early to say what might happen.”