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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Do you want the good news first?

According to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), the number of breweries in the UK has risen 188% since 2000: there are now 1,442. Long gone are the days when a reasonably well-informed beer drinker was familiar with the names of most breweries; nowadays when I travel elsewhere in the UK, I almost always find local breweries I've never heard of. Increased choice is of course good news in general but, contrary to what non-real ale drinkers tend to assume, that doesn't mean that every beer is excellent or that every real ale drinker likes every beer. Despite that, I'd say that overall things are looking good for drinkers who enjoy variety.

However, in the spirit of the beer glass being half empty, there has to be a note of caution. BBPA figures, which are based on tax revenues, show that alcohol sales fell by 1.7% in the year ending in 2013, and by 18% since 2004. There must come a time when declining alcohol sales will curb the increase in the numbers of breweries, and probably lead to some closures; I made a similar point last Wednesday when discussing the related issue of pub closures.

Are the anti-alcohol zealots pleased? Fat chance! As I reported on 14 August, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse (APPG) has come out with a document calling on all political parties to commit themselves to 10 measures to minimise alcohol-related harm in the UK. Despite the official sounding title, this is a group of "self-appointed busybodies with no official status" (to use Curmudgeon's words) who are attempting to influence the manifestos of all parties in the direction of more restrictions.

But it's even worse than that. As Xopher wrote in the comments to my post of 14 August:
  1. The secretariat for the APPG was provided by Alcohol Concern who researched the report.
  2. The APPG secretariat and the printing costs for this report were funded by Lundbeck Ltd.
  3. Lundbeck is a pharmaceutical company which paid for Alcohol Concern's alcohol harm map and report (The Case For Better Access To Treatment For Alcohol Dependence In England). 
  4. Lundbeck sells alcohol dependency drugs in the UK and across Europe.
The fact that Alcohol Concern is itself almost entirely financed from public funds completes the circle whereby the government squanders our money to pay a pressure group to lobby that selfsame government. Using the mechanism of the APPG looks suspiciously like a way of trying to obscure the audit trail. 

And is no one on the APPG bothered about the vested interest that Lundbeck has in helping to steer UK official policy in a way that would boost their own profits? Obviously not.

Enjoy the brewery boom while it lasts.

3 comments:

  1. Ah, Lundbeck. Funny story: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-563_en.htm

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  2. People moan about Alcohol Concern being publicly funded but when I offered to swim some lengths of the local baths and asked Mudgie et al to sponsor me to raise money for Alcohol Concern and turn it into a proper charity they all said no. Hypocrites.

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  3. Begs the question who's selling, or even buying, all that beer being made. Are there figures available for actual amount of beer produced per annum for the last 30 years or so?

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