The UK's second-largest brewer, Coors Brewers, has become the latest to raise its beer prices for the second time this year, in an effort to claw back soaring input costs.
Coors Brewers, whose main brands are Carling, Grolsch and Coors Light, has written to its on and off-trade customers notifying them of a 3p a pint price hike from 29 September, which follows an earlier 4p a pint uplift for on-trade in February.
Companies such as Coors Brewers and Belgian brewery giant InBev are battling spiralling input costs for barley, diesel, metal and energy in the UK, as well as the overall long-term decline in on-trade sales.
InBev UK, which brews Stella Artois, Beck's and Tennent's Lager, will raise the average wholesale price of all its draught and packaged brands by 3.3 per cent in the on and off-trade sector from 15 September, following an average increase of 4.15 per cent, equal to 5p a pint, in the spring.
Typically, pub operators put their prices up once a year and it is unclear how many will pass the hike on to customers, while retailers dictate their own pricing strategies.
Mark Hunter, Coors Brewers chief executive, said: "We are seeing input cost inflation of a magnitude that could cripple the UK beer industry."
Mr Hunter, who has been in the industry 20 years, said: "In living memory no one can recollect such a consistent level of increase." For instance, he said that the price of barley and metal, used for making cans, had rocketed by 50 per cent and 64 per cent respectively over the last two years, while its energy costs were up 150 per cent over a similar period.
Mr Hunter said that while no further price increases were planned for 2008, he said that if input costs continued on the same upward curve "additional increases will be unavoidable" in 2009.
However, brewers including Young's, Fuller's and SAB Miller in the UK said they had no current plans to introduce further price increases this year. Young's chief executive, Stephen Goodyear, said: "It is never well received by customers when you have to put prices up."