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Brewers hit by climate change

Published:  23 July, 2008

Hundreds of Britain's independent brewers could be forced to put up beer prices and lay people off as the cost for malted barley and hops increases due to the impact of climate change.

The cost of barley has rocketed by 40% whilst hop prices are up by as much as 100% in some cases as a result of this year's poor summer in the UK.

Peter Amor, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers said the price rises threatened jobs both in breweries and in pubs.

He said: "After wages, raw materials represent the biggest single expenditure by small brewers, who now face the dilemma of whether to put up their prices and lose trade or absorb the higher costs and take the risk of their businesses becoming economically unsound."

He added: "Beer is one of few things we still make in Britain and much of it is the traditional draught variety sold in pubs that are supervised by trained licensees. The good old British pub, an institution of which we should be so proud, is not, by and large, the culprit in binge drinking. We should remember that some supermarkets are selling alcoholic drinks at less than cost price and have no control over the subsequent behaviour of their customers."