Pubs given Moretti order limit as Britons’ al-fresco pints demand soars above Heineken expectations

Naomi Ackerman
·3-min read
<p>Soho pubs and restaurants were busy with al-fresco drinkers on Saturday night </p> (PA)

Soho pubs and restaurants were busy with al-fresco drinkers on Saturday night

(PA)

Heineken has limited supply of its premium Birra Moretti lager to UK publicans after Britons' enthusiasm for a draught pint on al-fresco reopening soared above even the brewing giant's optimistic predictions.

Pub bosses have reported seeing demand "above expectations" since sites reopened for outdoor-only service on April 12, with more than 10 million people making pub trips in the short period after months of lockdown.

The world's second-largest brewer Heineken has had to temporarily limit its pub customers to ordering a max of three kegs per week of its Birra Moretti, after the number of people ordering a pint of the premium lager came in above levels for which the company had planned.

A HEINEKEN UK spokesperson said: "Demand for Birra Moretti and Amstel has totally surpassed our most optimistic forecasts, and our breweries are working round the clock to deal with this high level of demand.

"We are working with our customers to offer alternative beers from the extensive HEINEKEN UK range of brands as we increase production."

Other brewers have also begun to ramp up supply.

Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame, which operates 319 pubs and hotels across London and the South East, opened 200 sites on April 12.

Chief executive, Jonathan Neame, told the Standard that "demand so far has been encouraging and above expectations".

He said: "There is pent up demand and that is putting some pressure on the supply chain as everyone tried to normalise stock levels and brewing rates."

The were reports of brewers and publicans having been cautious ahead of April 12, as outdoor sales are dependent on the weather - which in Britain is never reliable.

Industry sources cautioned that they are not currently seeing any other significant wider shortage of premium lagers in pubs around the UK, however, despite the increased pressure on the supply chain.

Under current Covid restrictions, pubs in England are currently allowed to seat groups of six people, or a group of any size from two households, outdoors. If Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, indoor seating will be permitted from May 17.

Many pub group bosses have warned that significant financial recovery for the sector depends on full reopening going ahead on June 21.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub group Young’s, has labelled June 21 "freedom day", while Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of pub group Greene King, has warned that most al-fresco only sites will remain loss-making even with pent-up demand.

Greene King runs more than 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels around the UK, and opened around a third of its managed estate on April 12.

Ahead of reopening, Mackenzie told the Standard: "With a myriad of restrictions set to remain in place for the coming two months, pubs across the country will continue to struggle. It’s therefore vital that the government sticks to its timetable with a full, unrestricted reopening from 21 June.”

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