Scottish bars, pubs and hotels can now access a free cross-industry platform and get permission from their brewers to destroy spoilt beer and cider following the launch of www.ReturnYourBeer.co.uk by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). It is estimated that up to 70 million pints of British beer from UK pubs will have to be destroyed. Being able to reclaim excise duty on this beer will be worth tens of millions of pounds to the on-trade.
The cross-industry platform enables participating brewers, who include Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Heineken, Molson Coors, Innis & Gunn, Carlsberg, Asahi and Marstons, C&C (but not Tennent’s or Belhaven) to manage the safe destruction of their brands in pubs and for the millions of pounds in excise duty from unsalable beer to be reclaimed and the appropriate and agreed recompense passed back to licensees.
Licensees with spoilt beer and cider in their cellars can access the platform by visiting www.ReturnYourBeer.co.uk via mobile, tablet or computer and creating a profile. Once their profile has been created they can follow guidance and instructions on the platform to seek permission from the brand owner to destroy their beer and cider in an environmentally friendly manner in compliance with local water authorities.
Licensees can also record destruction through the platform enabling duty to be claimed back by brewers, who will then agree the means of reimbursing the customer
By using the platform, businesses such as pubs, hotels, bars and clubs will be able to destroy draught beer and cider that has become spoilt as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and free up space for fresh deliveries, enabling them to restock and get cellars ready for re-opening.
More brewers are expected to join the platform, making it even easier for licensees to help clear their cellars and re-stock in preparation for re-opening.
Originally created and developed as a concept by Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, the site has been handed over and further developed as a wider industry platform by a BBPA steering group composed of brewers and pub operators.
From launch, the site will be administered on behalf of the sector by the British Beer & Pub Association. Whilst the site has been developed for broad use across the sector, licensees who run a Managed or Leased & Tenanted pub are reminded of the need to check with their pub operator first before attempting to use the site to clarify whether an alternative approach is preferred.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said, “We’re encouraging businesses with spoilt beer they need to destroy to visit www.ReturnYourBeer.co.uk and pre-register. The platform will provide guidance and instructions necessary to destroy beer, as well as crucially recording that destruction to enable duty to be claimed back on it. We estimate this could be worth tens of millions of pounds of credit flowing back to pubs and the wider on-trade. Crucial at this hugely challenging time.
“This cross-industry platform is free to use and should help businesses of all shapes and sizes who serve draught beer as they re-stock and re-fresh ahead of re-opening.”
As duty is already paid by the brewer on the beer held in pubs, HMRC demand transparency over the process of disposal and the volumes of beer involved before brewers can reclaim the duty on unsold stock and re-credit customers. This web tool enables licensees to securely record the volumes of beer in full and broached (part-sold) containers held in their cellars and communicate these to brewers in a cost effective way.
What do licencees have to do ?
Pre-register via the returnyourbeer.co.uk website to enable brewers to begin the process of verification required before beer disposal can be authorised.
Once verification is agreed licensees will be taken through a step by step process to safely record volumes of beer disposed of according to BBPA-endorsed processes.
HMRC have agreed with BBPA that photographic evidence supplied by the licensees will be acceptable and the website enables the publican to upload these images to verify the volumes of stock destroyed and the process undertaken to conform with Environment Agency and local Water company consents.
What will the brewers do with this data ?
The data will be cross-checked with the brewery to ensure the volumes correspond with volumes of beer sold to customers. The data will remain confidential to the brewers involved and will only be used by the brewers to calculate duty reclaims from HMRC (as agreed) and to enable either a re-credit of the duty amount or like-for-like replacement of stock at no additional cost depending on the individual brewer policy.
How many brewers brands are included within the scheme ?
All of the top selling beer brand owners are supporting this initiative on launch and along with some regional brewers, we are envisaging that brewers producing c.90% of unsold draught beer remaining in pubs will be part of the BBPA scheme. The benefit of the website will be especially felt by outlets and pub businesses with multiple lines of different brewers’ brands held in their cellars as it provides a single point of entry of data aimed at a number of suppliers.
Why can’t the beer just be poured down the drains or returned to the Breweries ?
The beer volumes involved would present challenges for the water supply if the disposal is not carefully managed in a phased and controlled way. The weight of full containers in cellars present a significant manual handling risk, as well as particular logistical and safety challenge during this period. Brewers would therefore prefer the kegs and casks to be emptied prior to their collection where possible.
Who is paying for the website ?
The start-up costs and ongoing maintenance of returnyourbeer.co.uk are being met by the participating brewers.