Scottish wholesaler warns of bottled beer shortages amid rising production costs


One of Scotland’s biggest wholesalers has warned that the UK could see bottled beer stocks plummet due to soaring production costs.

Julie Dunn, COO of Blantyre-based Dunns Food and Drinks, pointed out that a number of global suppliers are already facing glassware shortages, with prices jumping 80% in the last 12 months due to rising energy costs.

The warning comes after beer experts in Germany said the country could face a shortage of glass bottles this summer, with small and medium-sized breweries having to bear the brunt.

Dunn said: “It won’t be long before the glassware shortage hits UK consumers.

“Our wine and spirits suppliers around the world face ongoing struggles which will have a ripple effect – as a result there may be less variety in the bottled beers we see on UK shelves.

“Specialty bottles and glassware are a very important part of the heritage of the beer industry and I expect some breweries to convert to cans to ensure a steady supply, others will see this as a devaluation of the brand, which will inevitably lead to the overcharge on beer drinkers.

“We sell a huge amount of beer from Germany, so I would expect that we would feel a pretty seismic hit in the very near future.”

Beer remains the most popular alcoholic beverage choice in the UK, accounting for over £7.1bn of spending in 2020.

In 2017, over 53% of all beer sales took place off-trade – an increase of over 20% since the year 2000 – marking a shift towards people choosing to drink beer at home, rather than in reception areas.

In order to keep up with demand, Scottish brewers are already taking steps to combat rising production costs.

Steven Smith-Hay, co-founder of Vault City

Edinburgh-based Vault City Brewing will switch mainly to canned versions from next month.

Vault City co-founder Steven Smith-Hay said, “We started introducing cans into our release schedule in January due to rising costs and availability issues.

“Initially it was only for our session sours and our supermarket range, but with production prices being so high, we have decided to make all our beers in cans only from June, except for a few special outings each year.

“We’re paying about 65 cents per bottle right now, which is a jump of about 15 cents from what we were paying six months ago,” he explained. “If you think about the volume of beer we bottle even as a microbrewery, the costs are really starting to add up – it’s just not viable to continue in this direction.”

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