Big beer brands will be axed unless the multiples relax aggressive price cutting policies, a brewing industry leader has warned.
Delivering a previously unparalleled attack, Chris Edger, sales md for the off-trade at Coors, said Britain's biggest chains were now commoditising' beer to such an extent that popular brews had become the new bread' as a tool to drive customers into stores.
He warned: "Unless this stops, some brands will disappear. They will go so far down the price spiral, consumers will no longer want them."
Edger's comments, delivered at the brewer's annual unveiling of its product line-up for Christmas, came as Britain's biggest brewers began bracing themselves for another round of price-slashing in the run-up to Christmas. Typical offers last year included a 24-pack of Carling 440ml cans in Sainsbury which sold for just £9.99, with Asda promising to match its rival penny for penny.
More recent price cuts have seen similar offers, while Stella Artois' Reassuringly expensive' advertising catchline seems less appropriate every year.
Edger hinted £14.99 for 24 cans would be a more palatable benchmark for the major brewers. "We are facing a bit of a Rubicon here," he added. "We have got to the stage where pricing by the multiple grocers is being used so frequently to drive footfall that it is leading to dramatic commoditisation.
"We will be in a position where the segment will be so devalued that everyone will make less money."
A spokesman for Tesco said: "We are committed to offering our customers the best value on all products, including lager or anything else."
>> Marketing, p55