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Who will win Britain’s best roast crown?

On 13/08/15 by William Murray Communications

There’s nothing quite like a roast dinner – in fact it’s Britain’s favourite pub meal 1.

To celebrate the nation’s most popular pub grub, British Roast Dinner Week will be held from 28 September to 4 October 2015. It includes a fiercely-fought competition to find the ‘Best British Roast Dinner’. But the deadline is fast approaching.

To be in with a chance of winning the title, you need to submit your entry at the British Roast Dinner Week website by 16 August 2015. Entering is easy – there’s just four simple questions to answer and fabulous prizes up for grabs, including £10k worth of PR and a day with a pub food consultant. The business case is pretty persuasive too. Last year’s winner, The Truscott Arms in Paddington, London, saw its food revenues soar by a staggering 50%.

Hundreds of pubs across Britain have already entered, so why not join them? After all, what better way to get your pub’s name linked with the nation’s favourite pub meal?

Sponsored by KNORR® Gravy and supported by COLMAN’S® mustard, British Roast Dinner Week encourages pubs to put a roast dinner on their menu every day. Because that’s exactly what 40% of customers2 would like to see. And being known for great roasts brings in the bookings.

1 YouGov, survey commissioned by BBC Good Food, September 2014, n=10,000
2 OnePoll survey, August 2014, commissioned by Unilever Food Solutions, n=2000 consumers who eat roast dinners

William Murray Communications


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PRS Music Makeover 2015

On 28/07/15 by Rebekah Kendrick (Communications & Campaigns Officer)

From UB40’s first ever gig in 1979 at the Hare and Hounds in Birmingham, to the Amersham Arms in London which has helped boost the profile of newer bands such as Alt-J and Bombay Bicycle Club, pubs have always played a vital role in fostering musicians whilst bringing communities together to enjoy a huge variety of quality live music.

In recent years, we have seen just how close the relationship with musicians and pubs really is, with artists crafting their own beers, such as Robinson’s Trooper by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and Wychwood Brewery’s Piledriver by Status Quo.

You don’t have to be in the industry to know just how tough it is to run a pub and it’s so great to see a competition like Music Makeover rewarding those people who truly go above and beyond by introducing live music on top of their regular offering.

The BBPA has been supporting Music Makeover for five years, and this year, I was delighted to be one of the judges. The competition, run by PRS for Music, gives pubs the chance to win £10,000 of kit. All of the previous winners have had incredible results, most notably as a result of the expert advice PRS has to offer.

The Winners

This year’s competition included two categories: one for pubs which already have a large music offering each month and want to push it forward, and another for pubs which don’t already have regular live music, but want to make it a key part of their pub.

Helping talent grow in the local community is something Adam Dakin at The Maypole, Derby, is clearly passionate about. His winning entry involved ambitious plans to create rehearsal room spaces so that his pub can be a music focal point for the local community. Since taking over the pub, he has already invested his time and effort to build the pub’s reputation in the area: teaching customers ad hoc, scattering instruments throughout the pub and even building a stage for performances.

The second winner, the newly named Hickory Inn in Halberton, has recently undergone some renovations and its landlord and landlady showed a clear desire to make all styles of music available to its varied customer base. With clear ideas of what they will use their winnings for (one idea being a sound-system which will project live music across all the rooms in the pub), it will be exciting to see its transformation.

Rebekah Kendrick
Communications & Campaigns Officer


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Brewing contributes to development across the world

On 02/07/15 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

The Worldwide Brewing Alliance (WBA) in conjunction with the four global brewers – AB-Inbev, Carlsberg, Heineken and SABMiller, hosted an extremely well attended beer reception on Tuesday evening to close the first day of the WTO Global Review of Aid for Trade in Geneva.

Two years ago, I was fortunate to be able to say a few welcoming remarks to over 300 delegates who, in temperatures of 35 degrees plus, were certainly ready for a beer after a full first day discussing the Aid for Trade programme. Indeed, earlier in the day, SAB Miller spoke in a session regarding their efforts to invest in and develop new value chains in Mozambique (where they are also facing the prospect of tax stamps on imported beer).

It was a great opportunity to remind delegates that the brewing tradition goes back many centuries and that beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcohol beverage and the third most popular drink globally, behind water and tea.

Beer of course also has a significant impact on economic development. Due to the way beer is produced and consumed, the brewing sector typically employs more people across the entire supply chain relative to other alcoholic drinks, and most of those jobs are local. As we have shown here in the UK, beer creates local jobs in agriculture, raw material supplies, transport, retail and, most significantly, pubs, bars and restaurants. In the EU alone, over 2 million jobs are generated from the production and sale of beer, contributing €50 billion to the EU economy, each year.

Global brewers can also bring unique insights into some of the challenges businesses, economies and societies face today. They are global businesses but also deeply embedded in the local communities in which they operate. Sourcing local raw materials, and investing in local suppliers, is part of the fabric of the brewing process. By securing the supply of quality raw materials – be that barley, maize, sorghum, cassava or rice – brewers have always had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on local and global value chains.

Whilst local sourcing and local investment are priorities for all brewers, global value chains are also a vital component of the brewing industry. From the production and shipping of raw materials used in the brewing process – especially malt and hops – to the distribution of quality brands, the international trading system is fundamental to the health of the beer sector. It was therefore an opportunity to note how the WBA looks forward to the ratification and implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. This will enable brewers – especially those in developing countries – to continue to grow and contribute to economic development around the world. Finally it was important to re-emphasise our strongly held belief that brewers large and small, global and local, have a positive impact on the societies where they operate.

Delegates were then invited to sample a range of great beers from Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond. An unsurprisingly popular event!

Andy Tighe
Policy Director


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Is British beer getting stronger? A look at the facts

On 02/07/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

You may have seen the research from Mintel reported in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, saying that “older, middle class drinkers are consuming a higher percentage of alcohol” because a quarter of all beers launched over the past two years “contained at least 6.5 per cent alcohol, with many around the ten per cent mark”.

Does this mean that alarm bells should ring? It is worth taking a broader perspective on the market.

There is certainly a huge variety of new beers coming onto the UK market, with an estimated 5,000 total brands now available. It is true to say that craft beers from small producers have outperformed the market in recent years, but such beers still account for only a small market share, at around five per cent and not all craft beers are high strength.

Any increase in average strength in this part of the market is therefore likely to have a small impact on total units of alcohol consumed through beer.

On the other hand, as the article rightly points out, there has also been innovation at the lower-strength end of the market, which has indeed been spurred on by the Government’s innovative policy of 56 per cent tax relief on beers below 2.8 per cent ABV.

Overall, this means that British beer isn’t getting stronger. According to data published by HMRC, the average strength of beer sold in the UK in 2014 was just 4.16% ABV.

In fact, beer has been leading the way in terms of removing units of alcohol from the UK market. Under the ‘billion unit pledge’, as part of the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, the industry has met the billion unit target ahead of schedule, and most of the units removed as a result of the pledge, have been beer.

It is important to remember than overall, beer is very much our national, lower-strength drink, and is staying that way - especially refreshing during the kind of weather we are enjoying this week!

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Come on England! Best of luck to our World Cup team

On 30/06/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The next few days promises to be a bumper one for sports fans, with Wimbledon in full swing, the British Grand Prix, and not least the brilliant performance of the England women’s football team in reaching the semi-final of the World Cup in Canada.

I am sure many fans would love to root for the England team in the pub. However, it is now too late for pubs to apply for temporary event notices for the semi-final, which will start at midnight UK time, as ten days’ notice is required.

This situation shows the potential drawbacks of an inflexible licensing regime, as it means that venues that find themselves wanting to open on special occasions such as this, can’t do so.

We do need more flexibility to give pubs the ability to show, at short notice, such major sporting events.

In the meantime, let’s all get behind the England team - it's certainly a great reason to raise a glass in the pub the following day, and here’s hoping we can do the same if England reaches the final.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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World Environment Day

On 23/06/15 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Brewers played an active part in this year’s World Environment Day which was held on 5th June. The event, run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), raises awareness of our most pressing environmental challenges. It aims to promote positive environmental action globally, and companies and individuals around the world pledged to carry out activities to promote responsible management of the planet’s resources and ensure their activities minimise environmental impact.

BBPA member companies hosted a range of activities to mark the day and demonstrate their commitment to improve their environmental footprint. These ranged from ‘switch-offs’ and litter clean-ups, to conservation and wildlife protection work.

AB InBev held a number of events such as in Wales, where over 30 brewery staff helped clear litter from beaches near their Magor brewery, and in Brighton, where volunteers helped to build a new path at a nature reserve near their Samlesbury brewery in Lancashire. Adnams, who have made their beach cleans a regular local event, held their June clean-up to mark World Environment Day, offering those who took part a free pint to say thanks.

The sector has shown great enthusiasm for World Environment Day, and has shown its enthusiasm by using the day as an opportunity to engage staff and promote its commitment to sustainability to the wider public. But the brewing industry’s environmental commitment runs much deeper than just one day, and many companies have made environmental awareness a core part of their operations and ethos.

The industry has now cut carbon emissions by 68.5 per cent since 1990, and at the same time, has improved energy efficiency by 37.2 per cent. Brewing Green, our annual report on beer and pub sustainability, highlights the industry’s progress and showcases some of the achievements or companies in the quest to be as efficient and environmentally sustainable as possible.

This year’s edition includes AB InBev’s work to reduce global water usage to just 3.2 hectolitres per hectolitre of beer, Heineken’s project to cover their Tadcaster brewery in solar panels (which, combined with the biogas they produce, produces 8 per cent of their electricity), Robinson’s work to reduce the packaging of their award winning Old Tom beer, and Carlsberg’s progress towards zero waste.

At Heineken’s recent stakeholder event to discuss their CSR activity, the environmental challenges that the industry faces were a major topic of discussion. With a prediction that there will be a world population of 9 billion by 2040, it is important for companies to work hard to reduce their impact on the planet and ensure that we are able to carry on producing fantastic beer, as well as feeding a growing global population.

Brewers take this challenge extremely seriously and judging by progress to date are leading the way in being greener than ever.

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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British Institute of Innkeeping AGM

On 03/06/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Since the BII were holding their AGM in a nearby Livery Hall yesterday, 50 metres from the office, I thought it would be churlish not to attend! I was also keen to hear from Anthony Pender, their Chairman, about their new strategy and plans for the future.

Anthony talked about three objectives – collaboration, focus and cohesion. BII is absolutely clear that their work is around standards in qualifications, delivering training and membership. They have introduced 50 new qualifications this year. They are keen to work with the BBPA on our pub chefs’ recruitment initiative and set the standards for professional excellence in licensed retail.

Respect, pride, trust, professionalism, integrity and collaboration will be their watchwords and they aim to grow their membership to 16,000 by 2018. With the help of an external company the loss of 200 members a month has been reduced to 100. This is not necessarily about members choosing to leave, but more about members leaving the industry altogether and moving on. With their external help, membership is back in growth and they have taken on 200 new members in six weeks.

Anthony articulated the Government’s aim to have full employment by 2020 and the resulting challenge and fight for good people and how we all need to retain our staff. Investing in a new CRM system and re-engaging their regions are clearly high priorities for BII.

Onto the BII new look Summer Event & Lunch, which moved this year to the HAC in the City. There was a packed programme, and we listened to passionate support for sport from Clare Balding in what is Women’s Sport Week (meant to last three minutes, but went on for twenty!) and a wonderful exposition of ‘Talent alone is not enough’ teachability; a sponge or a rock; capture and develop knowledge; share and collaborate, organise your knowledge into a structure and evolve from undoubtedly England’s finest coach ever; Sir Clive Woodward is an afternoon well spent.

And then, after a series of awards the dénouement, the announcement of the BII Licensee of the Year, which went to Keith and Diane Marsden from the Prince of Wales, Moseley in Birmingham. As a judge, I can say they thoroughly deserved this award and I am sure will be excellent ambassadors not only for the BII, but for licensees throughout the UK in the coming year.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Hospitality Ulster launches in Belfast

On 26/05/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I was delighted to accept the invitation of Colin Neill, the CEO of Pubs of Ulster, to attend their relaunch as Hospitality Ulster in Belfast. BBPA has worked closely with Colin on beer duty and Northern Irish MPs have supported the cause, signing the EDM and writing to the Chancellor. It is also good to share best practice and pick up policy proposals in Northern Ireland which may also be considered in the rest of the UK!

Professionalism in any organisation often attracts political support, but even I was surprised to find myself speaking to, and being photographed with, Peter Robinson, the First Minister of Northern Ireland and his Finance Minister, Arlene Foster. Both attended and spoke at the morning launch. I am particularly sorry to learn that the First Minister is now unwell. He is an exceptionally good speaker and clearly passionate about the importance of hospitality and tourism to the Northern Ireland economy.

On the previous evening, I sat next to the Environment Minister Mark H Durkan (the H is to distinguish him from his Uncle Mark Durkan who is a Westminster MP). Environment in Northern Ireland is a department which has a wide ranging remit. Roads (so we discussed drink driving and their decision to reduce the blood alcohol limit to 50mg as in Scotland); Entertainment Licensing (which is up for amendment), climate change (so we discussed Packaging Recovery Notes) and of course support for the pub!

Hospitality Ulster commissioned Oxford Economics to undertake an economic overview. They found that their sector supports 65,000 jobs, contributes £1.2 billion to the NI economy, paying £635 million in wages. They are looking to grow the numbers employed by 5,000 by 2020.

Following the morning launch, I was invited to become a member of the Strategic Advisory Panel. Around 30 operators, trade associations, civil servants and other professionals met to discuss the priorities. There are a range of issues where the competitiveness of the North is struggling against lower costs in the South. The Republic of Ireland has removed Air Passenger Duty entirely. Set against an average £13 per person in NI, this means that many fly in and out South of the border. VAT is another clear area for concern and the NI Assembly has agreed to undertake a study into VAT for discussion with the UK Government.

Other issues are devolved, but taking time to change. A change in licensing laws which are in some cases archaic has been agreed, but is held up by the arguments over welfare costs. Familiar tales of red tape (you have to have your ceiling inspected in Belfast - and pay for the survey) as if it was an ancient theatre, but not in Derry! Business Rates are a shared concern for the hospitality sector and uniting the whole province for their 2016 Year of Food is a priority.

Hospitality Ulster will have representatives in every major town. It is an exciting, ambitious organisation, well connected, very well led by Colin Neill and his team and keen like the BBPA to reach out to the world of tourism, restaurants, hotels and leisure and make changes which benefit them all. Congratulations on your launch and we look forward to working with you closely in the coming months and years.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Meeting the Brewers of Europe in Tromsø

On 19/05/15 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Tromsø; 2,000 km from Oslo in Norway and 1,500 from the Russian Border. The land of Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), which you see in the winter months, and the midnight sun, which can be seen from the end of May - it was certainly never dark whilst I was there! Since 1877 there has been a brewery, and Harold Bredrup (chairman of the Norwegian Brewers) is the 5th generation family brewer who owns the 'Mach' brand. As it happens, Harold is the British Consul in Tromsø and the links to Britain are clear.

I was in Tromsø for the meeting of the Northern countries who make up Brewers of Europe, which includes the UK, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. It was the first time I have been to Norway and never so close to the Arctic. Tromsø is home to the Polar Institute and those who use it as a base before heading off for the Arctic. Their bar has been home to polar hunters and both in their pub and in the hotel there were stuffed polar bears!

There was prohibition in Norway from 1916 to 1927, but the brewery was allowed to sell beer on the premises as it already had permission to produce. During the Second World War when Norway was occupied by the Germans, they at first refused to allow the brewery to sell beer, and then demanded that they provide beer for all German troops everywhere in Norway. Because they needed to know how many soldiers they were supplying, they gathered detailed figures of troop movements which they were able to pass back to London.

It was May, but like being in Scotland in February. Cold, snow on the steep slopes of the mountains, very beautiful, but as yet no leaves on the trees. I gathered that spring is not a season in northern Norway, instead they wake up one day to green leaves and summer has arrived. The snow lasts until June.

In our meeting, we discussed our individual markets, nutritional labelling, the Brewers of Europe plans to produce a lobbying tool on reducing duty, the review of the Structures Directive and much more besides. It gives us an opportunity to agree our lines before the next Secretaries General meeting in June. It is a valuable alliance and a good opportunity to share best practice.

We were given the chance to drive out to the new brewery for 'Mach' which was completed in 2013 at a cost of £35 million. In addition to 15 types of beer (for which they suggest music on vinyl to accompany each one!), they also produce cider are the only producer of Coca-Cola in Norway. They also produce their own soft drinks, with half the capacity of the brewery for beer and the other for soft drinks. The new brewery has allowed them to reduce their energy costs by 40 per cent and water use by 50 per cent.

The region is certainly a fascinating place to visit. It is great for skiing, particularly 'randonnée', but it is as far from London to Oslo as it is from Oslo to Tromsø! However, great beer and a warm welcome await you when you are there!

Beer and vinyl matching, Tromso

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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