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CTSI report: Nearly half of wine in UK pubs and bars is short-measured

Published:  28 May, 2024

A report released by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has revealed that 70% of beer and wine served in UK pubs and bars is short-measured, resulting in significant financial losses for consumers. The study highlighted that an average beer drinker is losing approximately £88.40 annually, while a wine drinker loses around £114.40 per year due to under-pouring.

The CTSI's findings come at a time when alcohol prices have been steadily rising. According to the Office for National Statistics, alcohol prices have increased by 6.1% over the past year, though recent months have seen a slower rise of 0.3%.

Miles Beale, CEO of the WSTA, emphasised the need for accurate measures: “We are calling on the hospitality sector to ensure that consumers get value for money by making sure they are correctly measuring the drinks they are serving.”

Labour MP Jess Phillips expressed her concern over the issue, particularly in the context of the ongoing cost of living crisis. “Being able to afford to go out for a drink is not easy and you should get what you pay for,” she said, adding that serving short measures “adds insult to injury.”

The CTSI report found that when beer was short-measured, it was typically 4% less than a full pint, while wine was usually 5% below the standard 175ml glass. Among the 137 drinks sampled across 77 pubs and bars, the most under-poured drink was found in Walsall, West Midlands, which was short by 15%, or 26ml. Other significant short measures were identified in Belfast and Havering, east London.

Duncan Stephenson, a spokesman for CTSI, mentioned that the organisation would not disclose specific locations or chains involved in the study, noting that the findings represented a “snapshot” with a “small sample size”. He called for broader research to further investigate the issue.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) argues that consumers should have the right to a fully liquid pint. CAMRA chairman Nik Antona stated that patrons are “well within [their] rights” to ask for a top-up if their pint is short by more than 5%.

The public's opinion on the inclusion of the beer head in the pint measure is divided. A CTSI survey found that 35% believe the head should not be included, while 23% think it should be.