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Beer Duty / Brewing / Uncategorised / 06 December 2018

UK brewers amongst biggest and best in Europe, but tax burden weighs heavily, says BBPA

The British Beer & Pub Association has welcomed new research that shows UK brewers are amongst the biggest and best in Europe. However, the tax burden they face compared to their European counterparts is holding them back, it argues.

The new research, released by The Brewers of Europe, finds that the UK is one of the biggest producers of beer in Europe, brewing 4 billion litres of beer – equivalent to 10% of the total production in Europe[1]. This figure places the UK only behind Germany, which produces 9.3 billion litres of beer[2].

As well as being one of the leading brewing nations, UK drinkers also pay the most tax on their beer, stumping up almost 40% of all beer duty in Europe[3]. The BBPA argues that this shows the growth potential the UK brewing sector has, and if taxation on beer in the UK was brought closer in line with that of Germany, it would see the sector grow even more. At present, beer duty in the UK on a pint of 5% ABV beer is 54 pence[4]. In Germany, the duty on the same pint would be just five pence[5].

The beer duty freezes put in place by the Chancellor in his two most recent Budgets help the UK’s brewing sector to grow and invest. Whilst the UK may be the second largest beer producer, in terms of per capita consumption it is way down on the list, and its on-trade and off-trade split is still healthy. Without doubt the great British pub still has an important part to play in this. To build on the UK brewing sectors’ leading position in Europe and catch-up with Germany, as well as to help pubs, the BBPA continues to ask for a cut or freeze to beer duty.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said:  

“We should be proud that the UK is one of the biggest producers of beer in Europe, brewing 10% of all the beer produced. Considering that we pay some of the highest tax on beer in Europe, this is no mean feat.

“The beer tax burden is harming UK brewers and holding back growth, as shown by the gap between the UK and Germany. Germany’s beer tax is approximately twelve times less than that of the UK and as a result, it brews over twice as much beer as us.

“Recent freezes on beer duty by the Chancellor have been proven to support UK brewers’ growth, help pubs stay open and increase revenue for HMRC. It’s a no brainer to reduce beer duty, so let’s hope the Chancellor continues to recognise this.”

[1] 2018 edition of Beer Statistics, compiled from data collated by national brewers’ associations through surveys carried out by The Brewers of Europe and Eurostat. The full report (including charts and visuals) are available here with the password: stats4press

[2] As above

[3] BBPA data

[4] As above

[5] As above

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