Resourceful indie brewers can prosper

Your Cover Story on the UK beer market (MW March 18) airs one hoary old chestnut and puts hairs on a new one.

The old chestnut is the conspiracy theory that the major brewers (now aided and abetted by the major pub companies) are forcing consumers to drink a small range of brands that they don’t want. A publication devoted to marketing should be well aware that the consumer is never that tractable.

It may distress a number of interest groups to admit it, but consumers drink Foster’s, Carling, John Smith’s or Stella because they like them.

The fast ageing chestnut is the idea that the UK market is closed to small brewers and therefore they should have economic assistance through progressive duty. The simple truth is that the small breweries promoting this view are mostly all new businesses that have entered the beer market in the past few years. If the whole thing is so difficult why have businesses such as the Freedom Lager company started up and prospered?

The history of all consumer goods markets shows that well-founded niche companies making high quality distinctive products have succeeded. In every case this is done without gratuitous economic distortion.

Small cheese makers have made it without cheap milk, small bakers have made it without cheap flour, and I have no doubt small magazines have made it without cheap newsprint.

Richard Gibb

Director of corporate affairs

Scottish & Newcastle

Edinburgh

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