The HGV crisis has shown just how much we rely on imported goods as many of our food and drinks go out of stock.
Alongside the shortages, the cost of essential materials such as fuel, CO2, energy, bottles, cans, and packaging is shooting up – with some costs being passed on to consumers.
It means a pint of beer might now increase by 25 to 30p. In parts of the country with the highest cost of living, such as London, a standard pint is expected to hit £6.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) said the hikes may make it impossible for independent businesses to survive.
Drinks companies have seen a 73% increase in the cost of CO2, 57% rise in the cost of brewery energy, a 20% hike in the cost of beer cans and a 22% increase in the cost of cardboard packaging.
Other factors such as the national insurance contributions and rise in minimum wage are also said to affect pubs and bars. With furlough now finished, companies might no longer be able to afford to keep staff on.
To compensate for all the changes, the drinks price increase may be introduced.
Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, told the BBC: “We cannot absorb all these increased costs, whether it is the energy costs, whether it is food inflation, whether it is labour costs. The only way forward for us is to put the price of food and beer up in our pubs.”
SIBA’S chief executive James Calder said that for the first time, the number of UK breweries is falling.
He called for the government to stop burdening smaller breweries with tax hikes they can’t afford, or risk a “time-bomb” in the number of business closures in 2022.
“Even where pubs have already increased prices this has not been passed on to brewers and whilst nobody wants to see the price of a pint rise to an unappealing level, what we really don’t want to see are widespread brewery closures that will see consumer choice plummet,” said Calder.
One brewery in Lancashire, he added, had a rise of 220% in water supply in the last six months, making it a huge increase as the business usually uses six pints of water to make one pint of beer.
SIBA’s national chairman, Roy Allkin, who owns Boss Brewing in Swansea, added: “As a nation we all want to get back to work and back to some kind of normality, and as the cost of living rises employees need to be treated fairly and have wages which reflect inflation, but these changes cannot be viewed in isolation and come as part of a whole host of cost increases for small breweries.
“Many brewing businesses are reaching breaking point and where businesses close, many thousands of local jobs across the UK will be lost.”