Up to 77 million pints of beer have been thrown away since the start of the pandemic while 10 million more are expected to go down the drain during this lockdown.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), who calculated the figures, called the waste ‘heartbreaking’ and said it was the equivalent of £331 million in sales.
The trade association said this money would normally pay for hundreds of thousands of jobs in pubs and breweries across the UK.
But successive lockdowns and tier restrictions gave businesses no choice but to throw away beer that expired before it could be sold.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ‘Our sector is in limbo. And at several points in the last 12 months pubs and breweries have effectively had to pour their revenues down the drain.
‘We have no idea or clarity from Government on when we can re-open again. What we do know is if we cannot reopen in the near future, without further Government grant support and extensions to the job retention scheme, pubs and brewers will no longer have the cash left to survive and a wave of closures will be inevitable with jobs lost.’
Barrelled beer not sold by its best-before date has to be returned to breweries and disposed of.
The BBPA used industry feedback to calculate that 70 million pints of beer were thrown away during the first lockdown last spring.
As publicans were more alert to the risk of wastage, they bought less stock when they reopened in July, according to the BBC.
This meant that during further lockdowns and restrictions from autumn, seven million pints were wasted, with another 10 million expected to go down the drain during the current one.
The BBPA is urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to give publicans more help in the March Budget, including extending the VAT cut for the hospitality sector.
Ms McClarkin said many pubs will need grants to help them kick-start their businesses again.
Without this, ‘neither pubs or brewers will be around to brew and serve beer when we can reopen,’ she said.
Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his roadmap to easing restrictions on February 22, meaning pubs will find out when they can reopen in a matter of weeks.
It emerged today that the PM wants to ditch the substantial meal rule requiring customers to order food if they want alcohol.
Under the blueprint, outdoor activity will be prioritised after the reopening of schools.
According to The Times, limited social gatherings outside could be possible within weeks of pupils returning to the classroom on March 8.
Outside markets are set to return before high street shops and al fresco drinking and dining will be allowed before eating indoors.
The rules will be applied nationwide after ministers decided not to return to the regional system of tiers when lockdown is lifted.
But Government sources warned the plans are still ‘tentative’ and so far only the earliest date pupils can go back to the classroom has been agreed.
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