The biggest talking point of the British pub industry at the moment is the proposed takeover of Punch Taverns by Heineken. When I think of Heineken, I think of the Dutch lager, I’m a bitter man (in both senses of the word!) but it’s a perfectly decent lager. What I hadn’t realised without doing a bit of research was that Heineken are a massive company that own breweries and brands all over the world.
They are currently in discussions to take over Punch Taverns, who are a UK company that owns many pubs but doesn’t brew its own beer. What concerns me is that just after we’ve had legislation to stop tied pubs having to purchase beer from the brewery that owns the franchise, we now have a large organisation that owns many breweries. For those that are confused- the rules on tied pubs relate to whether or not breweries can insist that franchised pubs have to buy beer from the brewery that owns them, what we are talking about with Punch Taverns are managed houses where the same rules don’t apply.
The Heineken Group have said that they won’t be insisting Punch Taverns pubs get their beer from Heineken Group Breweries but I’d prefer there be legislation to stop it. It’s not that I don’t trust Heineken to do the right thing, it’s that I don’t really trust any company to do the right thing- I was taught when I studied economics that the primary goal of almost every company is to make money. If at some point in the future Heineken decide that it is more profitable to only sell beers from their own breweries, there isn’t anything to stop them.
It seems a shame when we see the craft beer boom to see big global companies swallowing up breweries and pubs. We have an increasing range of craft beers which gives a huge variety but it is important that there are still pubs left to sell that beer in!