Pub operators have been urged to react to looming cost pressures by clawing back some of the £709m a year in profit lost to draught beer quality standard issues – the equivalent of £14,600 per pub.
The Beer Quality Report 2017, produced by Vianet with Cask Marque, argues resolving simple in-pub quality issues present a significant untapped profit opportunity for operators worth 5.8% of total beer sales.
One in three pints served in the UK comes from an unclean line, with pubs that fail to keep clean lines losing c£32,000 a year, the report finds.
One in four pubs had a major temperature issue in 2016, serving more than 20% of beer to warm, a contributor to the £182m lost to quality uplift.
The report shows once again a clear north/south divide when it comes to beer quality and found managed pubs continue to perform best on line-cleaning with regional brewers the worst. Drinkers in both the north east and north west of England are most likely to be served a perfect pint as pubs in those regions had a significantly lower average of unclean lines than in areas of the south of England and Wales.
Last year’s star location, Doncaster, has been usurped by both Warrington and Newcastle, where drinkers have a three in four chance of being served a pint through clean lines. Last year Reading was revealed as the city where drinkers are least likely to get a good pint, however this year Bath is bottom of the list – with almost half of all pints served through unclean lines.
The report also shows pubs are continuing to put on too many beers, losing £73m over-ranging by at least three pumps on average, with one in seven cask hand pulls dispensing less than 20 pints a week.
One in four pubs rank below ‘good’ for their glassware, a factor which creates flat beer, off aromas and collapsing heads.
Pouring loss costs the industry £206m a year, with 1.7% of all yield wasted.
Meanwhile 2% of all drinks do not make it through the till, through a mixture of mistakes, theft and unreported spillage, costing the industry £248m in lost profits.
Paul Nunny, director of Cask Marque, described the report as damning, and told MCA with cost pressures and competition from craft keg beer, the craft category had to react.
He said: “Cask is a unique product – but we need to get it right or consumers will turn off like they did in the early ‘90s.
“We are not going to grow the cask sector if the quality is not delivered to the consumer.
Nunny said the cask category could learn from the craft beer movement and called greater parity between the two at the tills.
He added: “Craft keg is a better competitor to the old kegged beer like John Smith’s, so there’s a challenge to cask which we need to meet. We also need to position cask as a premium product as it takes more to look after a decent pint of cask. If cask isn’t looked after in pubs we are going to have a major issue because there’s competitors at the bar who could take market share.
“We can learn from craft keg, and we ought to narrow the price gap between the craft and cask.”
Steve Alton, managing director of Vianet, said the report was “call to action” for operators.
He said: “The costs these guys are having to absorb, they are all here and they’re very real. It does feels like there’s a perfect storm; the sense of urgency is quite palpable.
“You could have the best concept, the best investment – it doesn’t mean anything if the beer’s not at the standard you expect.
“The discipline has been here for some time in food. Yet in this category, it doesn’t have a system.”
The report is based on Vianet data from 220,000 devices, including its quality and waste management platform iDraught.