Find a blog post

Refine your search here


Media reports regarding beer's sugar content

On 02/04/14 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Media reports regarding beer's sugar content

There has been considerable focus on the sugar content of food and drink in the national media of late, and in particular some misleading reports have been published, claiming to highlight the ‘hidden’ sugars within alcoholic beverages, including beer. Much of this focus appears to be on the apparent addition of sugar to beer by brewers and, in the case of one report challenged by the BBPA in February, the ridiculous suggestion that a pint of ale contains nine teaspoons or 45g of sugar!

Spurious claims aside, the reality is very different and a pint of beer will typically contain less than a teaspoon of sugar. Some of the considerable media confusion occurred in differentiating carbohydrates from sugar. The total carbohydrate content of beer will almost certainly be higher than the sugar content. The finished beer contains many sources of carbohydrates beyond sugars, such as soluble fibre, many of which have been individually associated with positive health benefits. In addition, the majority of this carbohydrate is derived from the cereals which are one of the main ingredients of beer

Most beer will have very little, if any, sugar added during the brewing process, and any sugars that are added will be almost entirely converted into alcohol. The average sugar content for ale with a characteristic alcohol strength of 4%-5% ABV is around 2.5g, or half a teaspoon, per 500ml. Studies reported in the media that centre on sugar do so largely as a proxy for calories. In this way it is worth remembering that beer is relatively low in calories. A typical half a pint of bitter contains just 90 calories - that's fewer than in the same amount of orange juice, or milk.

Confusion and misinformation reported in the media do very little to aid consumer understanding of complex issues associated with nutrition and diet. They can also lead to misconceptions and in the case of beer, few know that, as well as being relatively low in calories, it also typically contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. There is no doubt that, when enjoyed in moderation by those without underlying health conditions, beer can certainly be part of a healthy lifestyle."

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


Please login to comment.

Local action leading the way

On 01/04/14 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

The recent announcement by the Government of 20 Local Alcohol Action Areasto pilot solutions to tackle alcohol related harm have been met with general support from the industry but at a least some uncertainty of what the role of businesses should be.

However, as has already been seen through the commitments undertaken through the Public Health Responsibility Deal the industry has a great deal to offer and have signed up to a range of diverse pledges with far ranging and often creative actions to demonstrate their social responsibility and help contribute to the core commitment ‘to foster a culture of responsible drinking’.

Whether providing consistent information to consumers about units in their favourite drinks; providing appropriate health labelling on packaging; tackling underage sales; funding Drinkaware to educate people about responsible consumption; supporting partnership working in local communities or innovating to grow the lower alcohol beer category, the brewing industry continues to take its responsibilities seriously and will continue to challenge itself to do more.

However, work in the LAAAs will be a very different ballgame. Although signs show that the key trends nationally are moving in the right direction with reductions in underage drinking, harmful drinking, alcohol related deaths and alcohol related crime the picture at a local level is more varied with certain areas still coming higher than average on key harm indicators and a strong local desire to find solutions to problems.

With a diverse range of areas from Scarborough to Weston Super Mare selected as LAAAs, strategies will necessarily be tailored to the needs of the area and key objectives will vary. With public health now also a responsibility of local authorities, this will further add to the diversity of local ambitions and aims.

The pub and brewing industry has already been supporting partnership based solutions for some time and the schemes such as Pubwatch, Best Bar None, Community Alcohol Partnerships and Purple Flag have been making a difference in local areas in tackling a range of issues and helping to promote a diverse, safe evening and night time economy.

Whether it be providing support for the work of the national schemes, raising awareness amongst employees or providing local knowledge and input into the development of local alcohol strategies and action plans despite the challenges it is important that the industry get involved with an active role as an equal partner with local stakeholders and demonstrate what can be achieved with coordinated and targeted local action.

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


Please login to comment.

A cut in beer duty will be enjoyed by hardworking people – and it also supports a great British Industry

On 25/03/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The suggestion that a cut in beer duty helps hardworking British people is backed up by a recent YouGov survey commissioned as part of our Budget campaign. It found that almost a fifth of workers were put off going out to the pub until pay day, because they could not afford it. It also found that there was huge support (69 per cent) amongst the UK adult population for a cut or freeze in beer duty.

These views were clearly understood by both the Chancellor and Nicky Morgan the Economic Secretary when they again cut beer duty by 2 per cent in last week’s Budget.

However, they saw the economic arguments, too.

Beer is a British manufacturing industry which suffered a 42 per cent increase in tax on its product between 2008 and 2012. Nearly 90 percent of beer produced in this country is drunk here and yet British brewers hardly make 2p a pint.

Why is beer important to pubs? Because beer accounts for seven out of ten alcoholic drinks sold in pubs. Draft ale on such a large scale is unique to the UK. It is one of the reasons why, according to Visit Britain, going to a pub is third on the list of things to do for overseas visitors.

Brewing and pubs support almost one million jobs in the UK. Of these jobs, 20,000 are in agriculture; 40 per cent of UK malting barley is used in British beer and brewers also use British hops and malt. In pubs, there are 600,000 employees. 46 per cent are under the age of 25 and over 50 per cent are women. If more people go to the pub, pubs will hire more staff. With the first duty cut last year, ten thousand jobs were saved.

Brewers and pubs have proved to the Treasury that not only can they build on the confidence provided in last year’s cut – some £400 million was invested in capex last year - but they can also increase exports. Beer exports were worth £629 million in 2013 and are up 24 per cent, outside the EU, since 2008.

Going back to the survey, 80% of the UK adult population wanted wider taxes on pubs to be frozen or cut. Yes, this is a popular measure, but it is also provides very serious and important support for a British Industry which contributes some £22 billion in gross value added to the UK economy.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

Tackling Excise Duty Fraud: next steps

On 14/03/14 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

Despite the very welcome decision by Government not to proceed with tax stamps for beer, expectations remain high that the legitimate industry has a greater role to play in achieving a significant reduction in duty fraud and associated revenue losses.

Following a kick-off meeting of a new Government and Industry joint anti-fraud task force in January, six work streams have been identified to progress specific areas identified to better understand, communicate and ultimately reduce alcohol duty fraud. These are: The nature and scale of fraud; information and intelligence sharing; collaboration; technology; communication; and, retail practices.

The first meetings will take place at the beginning of April to agree the terms of reference and identify high priority activity and outputs for the next 12 months. Brewers are to be represented on the groups either directly or via BBPA. The groups will report back to the main taskforce which will, in turn, report back to the Minister (Nicky Morgan MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury) on the progress made. It is also envisaged that there will be a formal report published at the end of the year.

This week, BBPA Council also endorsed the Best Practice due-diligence/know-your-customer template developed by BBPA through the Beer Duty Operations Panel with input from HMRC and agreed to implement this across the membership. This is a vital step in helping to secure supply chains although will only be truly effective if similar actions are also implemented both down and across alcohol supply chains. The BBPA will therefore be pursuing wider sign-up of this via the joint anti-fraud taskforce. This will be even more pertinent as HMRC has announced that due-diligence activity will become a condition of approval for alcohol producers and traders in duty-in-suspended products.

It is also worth highlighting that duty fraud has knock-on implications on other policy areas and particularly the proliferation of ‘voluntary’ local schemes to remove what are described as “cheap super-strength” beers and ciders, which risk stigmatising the beer category as a whole. From a beer perspective the duty alone (plus the VAT on the duty) on a 4-pack of 500ml cans of 9% abv beer comes to £5.23 on a ‘duty paid’ basis. Therefore, these are not particularly cheap alcoholic drinks to produce and retail, particularly compared to a 2-litre bottle of 7.5% abv cider which would pay 95p in duty/VAT.

In the final quarter of 2013, HMRC and Border Force seized 2.4 million litres of illicit alcohol, including 1.8 million litres of illicit beer, plus 58 HGVs following over 1000 interceptions.

Andy Tighe
Policy Director


Please login to comment.

Working Together: Corporate Partnerships

On 10/03/14 by Liz Gaffer (Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC)

Since launching our new Support and Care service last year, we’ve had a great response and plenty of interest from the larger pub companies and brewers alike, wanting to know more about how the Charity helps all the hard-working people in our trade when they face difficulties. And I feel that we’ve gone some way to addressing the negative perception about us ‘helping the failures’.

We are a caring organisation devoted to looking after people in the licensed drinks trade when it’s most needed. The Charity’s been around for over 200 years and even today, we’re proving we’re just as relevant as we have always been. Our quick response tweeting how we help Licensees when they’ve been personally affected by the recent floods is a good example.

Over the past few months we have established good working relationships with many HR and or Operations Directors at Punch Taverns, Heineken, Adnams, Wadworth & Co and JW Lees to name a few, all of whom are now actively promoting LTC’s Support and Care through their internal communications network.

We have produced bespoke banner ads for Punch Buyer’s Club website and appeared in Punch Innsider - their staff magazine; we sent 1300 leaflets to Heineken to enclose in their employee packs and appeared in First Orders staff magazine and last month Adnams released an email campaign to their staff to raise awareness of how we support children.

Our message to all the pub cos and brewers - big or small - is that we are here to help and can help with a range of different personal issues. If all HR Directors see us as an extension to what support you already offer staff, together we can keep the pub industry thriving.

Our helpline is free and our friendly advisors are trained to quickly access your situation and provide relevant information to help you out of difficulty; they listen without judging and work through all the options until a resolution is found and if that means financial assistance, we consider that too.

If you manage or work in a pub, club, brewery or off-licensed and for whatever reason are facing personal difficulties – I urge you to make the Licensed Trade Charity your ‘go-to’ charity in the first instance. Call us confidentially on 0808 801 0550. Calls are FREE and lines are open from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week. Or visit

None of us plan for things to go wrong but when they do we are here to listen and help.

If you work in HR or Operations and you can help us spread the word about our Charity amongst your organisation, please get in touch.

Liz Gaffer, Director of Marketing & Charity Services, The Licensed Trade Charity

Tel: 01344 884440

Liz Gaffer
Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC


Please login to comment.

Trade visit to the Black Country

On 07/03/14 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I was very privileged to be offered a visit to the Black Country with Richard Matthews, our soon to be retiring Midlands’ Secretary, who has served the industry so well. At the invitation of Stuart Plant and Andy Crump, we went to see three Punch pubs and visited Black Country Ales.

First, we went from Sandwell and Dudley, to the Horse and Jockey in Wednesbury; a community pub with a recent major refurbishment jointly funded by the tenant and Punch. Stuart Plant, senior partnership development manager for Punch, met us there and we had an opportunity to meet Carol and Mark, the licensees who are obviously wonderful pub hosts.

The main focus for the refurbishment is an upstairs function room used for everything from a handbag sale or wedding receptions, to a whole range of tribute bands. Carol and Mark are on a 'Foundation Tenancy'; a five-year arrangement which involves considerable support from Punch, particularly in the first year, to help provide the expertise to make it work. Already, sales are up, and John, their business advisor, was there to help some more.

The next pub was the Archers in Walsall, which was opening the next day after a five-week closure and a major refurbishment. Barry and Nikki are also on a Foundation Tenancy and the wet-led pub has a clear sports focus, with darts and pool. In both cases the designs for the new decor really worked and showed what light and colour can do. I am certain that customers will be wowed by the new look. Barry, the Punch business advisor, is always looking for things to put right before the next visit. A very positive influence!

Final stop with Punch was the Arbor Lights, a very unusual and upmarket venue, almost a restaurant, in the centre of Walsall. Unfortunately, Matt the licensee and Punch partner was not there, but the venue is number six, on Trip Advisor, for Walsall and was rated five out of five for ‘Best of Walsall’. An extremely good lunch if you are ever in the area!

All the licensees raised national issues, such as utility bills, licensing costs and business rates. Rates are a particular issue at the Arbor, showing how much need there is for a review.

I drew so many positives from the visits it would be difficult to list them all, but clearly for all three premises a great relationship with Punch is crucial. They are all thriving businesses run by people who wished they had taken the decision earlier to run a pub. There are challenges in all the areas where they are located, but all are the epitome of a community pub, on the way up, wonderful licensees and show exactly why the tied system works so well.

Finally, on to see Angus McMeeking at Black Country Ales and the Old Bulls Head in Lower Gornal. In the heart of the Black Country they even have a beer called Pig on the Wall; a historic reference to a time when pigs were put on the wall to see a carnival pass by - they must have been quite small! When Angus bought the property it came listed with two outhouses. When he investigated further there was an original brewery dating back to the 1800s! So, Black Country Ales was born and serves their 30 pubs within a half-hour drive.

When you spend so much time fighting for the £100 prize for gaming machines (already making a difference to takings), for extended hours for the World Cup and for help on business rates, as well as of course the continuation of our ability to offer low-entry costs to running your own business; it is wonderful to see the benefits to our members and their own licensees and partners.

Thank you all, for your hospitality.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

#freeze4beer – keeping the pressure on

On 26/02/14 by Sophie McIntyre

It’s just over three weeks until Budget 2014. The BBPA team has been busy campaigning, and providing members with campaign tools. With 900,000 working in our industry, we can make a real difference in our call for a duty freeze.

There has been some fantastic campaigning so far – from members small to large: family brewers, global brewers; those with a handful of pubs and those with thousands. A few of these initiatives are highlighted below, which will hopefully provide inspiration for what can be done.

  • Hook Norton has written to all their MPs, using our Oxford Economics local data, personalising each case using their own pubs and breweries. Theakstons has been in correspondence with two local MPs on the issue. They have also included the essential message on duty in all their recent press releases.
  • St Austell has presented a Beer Champion award to local MP Sheryll Murray, and has engaged other local MPs using our Beer Story leaflet, and local statistics.
  • Little Valley Brewery is to feature our new beer mats in pubs and at the Little Valley Brewery Off Licence. They will also be sent local MPs’ offices.
  • Heineken has used both their free trade First Orders and Pub Life lessees magazine to promote the campaign, using infographics from the Beer Story. They have written to all of their UK staff encouraging them to lobby MPs, and targeted every MP in a constituency where they have a brewing operation.
  • They are also sending campaign beermats and a copy of the Beer Story to their more than 2,000 Star Pubs & Bars.
  • Enterprise Inns have engaged all of their staff and publicans by encouraging them to lobby MPs. They have also written to every MP in constituencies where they have a significant presence.
  • Fullers have asked all of their managers to write to their local MPs, making the publican’s case to Parliament. Letters have been flooding in.
  • Timothy Taylors have engaged their local MPs, personalising their case, on the issue.
  • Daleside has engaged their local MP, taken advantage of media opportunities and pushed out campaign messaging on social media.
  • Carlsberg have engaged their local MPs and also used their corporate social media channels to push out the Beer Story infographics.
  • Brewers from Yorkshire and the North East held a Reception in the Houses of Parliament, focusing on the need for a duty freeze.

Of course, these are just a few examples. We would like to know what others have been done to date – please let us know how you have been engaging with the campaign.

Finally, here is a brief summary of the actions you can take and the tools that we have put together to help you and your staff engage.

1. Get your MP onside
Write to your local MP highlighting the sector’s importance in your constituency. We have written up a template letter asking him or her to consider the importance of the sector and then sign the EDM and/or write to the Chancellor.

You can also lobby your MP via a link that CAMRA has set up to help move the campaign along.

2. Engage your local media
Get in touch with your local press. Use our template news release to get them interested in the importance of the industry to your local area. Please fill in the gaps using data from the engagement pack spread sheet.

3. Get your beer mats out there
We have created a range of beer mats modelled on the 2014 Beer Story. Many are now on their way to members across the country – if you would like some, please let us know before they run out!

4. Tweet the #freeze4beer message
Tweet your MP, people in your area and your local media. Let them know the number of jobs and economic contribution of our industry in your local area using the campaign hashtag #freeze4beer.

5. Make your communications personal
Personalise all communication using local level data detailing how important the industry is to your area. This data can be downloaded here. We also have constituency and local authority snapshot sheets – please contact our Public Affairs Manager, Gareth Barrett,, if you would like us to send you any of these.

6. …But keep the broader picture in mind
For more information on the broader economic contribution of the industry, our Beer Story 2014 is available to view here and the infographics from the brochure are also available to download here. Members should also have received this publication in the post.

Thanks for all your help. It is really making a difference.

Sophie McIntyre


Please login to comment.

National Pubwatch conference – partnership in action

On 21/02/14 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

The 11th National Pubwatch conference was held this week at the Palace Hotel, Manchester. Well attended by licensees, police, local authorities and others with an interest in the trade, the title of the conference was ‘protect and promote your Pubwatch through partnership working’ and a variety of speakers expounded on this theme.

After a welcome from National Pubwatch chairman Steve Baker, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Sir Peter Fahy opened the conference and was followed by Mark Baird of Diageo giving the trade view of partnership working. ACPO licensing lead Adrian Lee also presented, with a challenge to the trade to increase efforts to tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour.

The two breakout workshops gave an opportunity for delegates to provide input into two areas – protecting your Pubwatch and partnership working. The first workshop saw pubwatches, police and local authorities receive advice on how to steer clear of legal challenges under the Human Rights Act by ensuring that pubwatches remain independent of public authority direction and ban people based on their own decisions.

The Home Office in the second workshop gave an update on the new Local Alcohol Action Areas (LAAAs) held in 20 areas across the country. The LAAAs are intended to bring together local authorities, the police, health bodies and the on- and off-trades in order to address problems related to alcohol misuse with Home Office support. Delegates also heard about the work of the Portman Group in promoting partnership working, and the Hereford Pubwatch HAND scheme whereby those who have been banned can have this lifted upon successful completion of an alcohol awareness course. The pubwatch and police reported that this scheme had seen success during the year it had been in place, and were looking to roll this out to other areas to test its viability in urban areas.

Overall, the conference was one of the most successful National Pubwatch events so far and demonstrated the key role pubwatches play in the social responsibility landscape. The BBPA has been a supporter and promoter of pubwatches and National Pubwatch for a number of years, and we urge members to promote them to their lessees, tenants and managers – especially those new to the trade. There are many successful voluntary partnership schemes which are leading the way in the good management of public spaces, such as local Pubwatches, Best Bar None, Business Improvement Districts and Purple Flag, and should be encouraged at every opportunity.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


Please login to comment.

Recovering from the personal effects of Flooding

On 19/02/14 by Liz Gaffer (Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC)

Since the severe weather hit the UK at the turn of 2014 we responded quickly by putting together a useful factsheet that provides practical, step-by-step guidance on what to do if your pub has been affected by floodwater.

Call the LTC 0808 801 0550

We have also contacted relevant trade press to raise awareness of how the Support and Care team at the Licensed Trade Charity are here to help. To-date we have received several calls from people in need of help from across the South of England, including Cornwall, Southampton and as far down as Kent. Some of the ways we offer help includes:

  • Income assistance – if you are struggling to pay monthly household bills due to a lack of income, we could provide short-term financial assistance to see you through.
  • If your home has been damaged and your insurance does not cover the cost of temporary accommodation we could help pay for this.
  • If essential personal items have been destroyed in your home and again are not covered by your insurance policy, we could help replace them.
  • If you are ill and need special support which is not provided elsewhere, in the short-term we could arrange this on your behalf.

Whatever your circumstances, if you manage or work in a pub, club, brewery or off-licensed and have been personally affected by the damage caused by floodwater, the Licensed Trade Charity may be able to help you. Our friendly helpline advisors will certainly look at all the options available to you in times of need. As a Charity, we have been providing support for over 200 years to those working in the pubs trade when they face difficult times.

If you’re struggling from the personal effects caused by flooding, please don’t hesitate to give us a call – our Support and Care helpline is FREE on 0808 801 0550. Lines are open from 8am-8pm, 7 days a week and are free from all landlines and most mobile networks. Or go online and type ‘flood’ to read our useful factsheet.

Liz Gaffer
Director of Marketing & Charity Services, LTC


Please login to comment.