Brewers have accused Sainsbury of destabilising the beer market after slashing prices to as low as 33p a bottle to increase festive footfall - one of the cheapest deals available on leading brands.
The supermarket ran a five-day promotion ending on Tuesday (December 7) offering any two packs of Stella Artois, Carling, Budweiser, John Smith’s, Grolsch, Strongbow and Smirnoff Ice for £16.
It equated to 9p per 100ml on Carling, 11p per 100ml on Grolsch and 12p per 100ml on Stella, which will come as a blow to owner Interbrew which last week said it would put up prices in January to put value back into the lager category and fund more innovation.
A Sainsbury spokeswoman said it was the lowest price at which it had sold Stella in recent times. “We constantly strive to provide excellent value, and saw this promotion as offering increased interest among our customers.”
Stuart MacFarlane, Interbrew take-home MD, said the market had held up fairly well on price until now. “This move could, however, destabilise the market and may potentially give suppliers and retailers trigger happy fingers with beer getting caught in the crossfire.”
Kevin Brownsey, off-trade sales director at Coors Brewers, said it had increased the cost price of Carling and planned to move up on Grolsch in 2005. He said Interbrew was at least 18 months behind Coors on its pricing strategy.
“We’ve seen a split in the market with premium beers battling for share and space on price, while pricing on standard lager has moved up,” he said.
“We don’t want to see Grolsch sold at that price but it’s not in our control.”