Brewer Heineken UK is planning to introduce a ?25 charge for each beer and cider container customers fail to return after revealing kegs and casks are being lost at an alarming rate.
The company says the current loss rate has become unsustainable and will continue to be reflected in the increasing cost of beer and cider unless the problem is addressed. A new 11-gallon container costs ?75.
The new charges will come into effect later this summer after a monitoring “keg
balancing” scheme, which started at the beginning of March, has run for five months.
The charge will apply to all unreturned Heineken containers delivered to individual pubs, brewers, wholesalers and other account holders.
The flow of containers to and from outlets is being monitored, with customers being provided with a monthly statement showing the balance of containers delivered and returned.
Once the scheme has been established and customers have become acquainted with the system the ?25 charge will come into force, probably around July.
“We believe that a keg balance scheme is an appropriate and equitable step forward given the financial losses suffered by the industry,” Heineken said.
“A customer who regularly returns containers would see little or no cost but those who fail to return containers over a long period would bear a portion of the cost of replacing them and would incur debit charges to their trading account at the quarter end,” it added.
Heineken said its scheme differed significantly from a keg deposit arrangement and did not require ”up front” funding.
Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations presi-dent Nigel Williams admitted container losses were a major industry problem, but said the onus should not be placed entirely on licensees.
“There needs to be more input from delivery crews in recording take-aways and there needs generally to be more accuracy,” he said.
Licensee Geoff Sutcliffe of the Rising Sun, Wilpshire, Blackburn, said he had reservations about Heineken’s scheme. “It seems they are going to rely on the draymen to make it work. It’s going to put a lot of onus on them.”