Supermarket price wars have driven the price of beer in UK to as low at 11p per 100ml (about 60 cents American for a 12-ounce container), about the same as bottled water.
Trade magazine Grocer found that Stella Artois was on sale at Morrisons for just 11p per 100ml – 2p more than the same amount of Evian water.
The magazine indicated “Beer Wars” that annually arrive at the Christmas holidays have started earlier than usual, and include spirits and wine as well as beer.
Grocer’s news editor Richard Clarke said the discounts were good news for shoppers but were likely to worry brewers. “It just begs the question, given that you would expect the competition between supermarkets to get even fiercer before Christmas, just how low can prices go?” he said.
The price wars further hurt pubs already struggling because of a smoking ban. The supermarket price of Stella Artois is comparable to 63p for a pint, less than a quarter of what it sells for in a pub.
“This type of price-cutting just encourages people to drink excessively outside of a controlled environment like a pub,” said Paul Waterson, president of the Scottish Licensed Traders’ Association. “The supermarkets want to sell alcohol in the same way that they sell bread or eggs, but you can’t. There is a moral responsibility that comes with it.”