Still keen to be green

Corporate inertia is stopping big retailers from seeing the value of stocking local beers at a time when concern for the environment is making shoppers concerned about food miles, Peter Amor, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers, has warned.

"They are not really seeing that localism gives you a real opportunity to grow," Amor said. "People are worried about food miles and they want to see local products. It is nonsense that we make a product that is 96 per cent water then spend vast amounts transporting it across the country."

Amor also noted that climate change may force brewers to get their raw materials from outside Britain. "We've seen the effect on the winter barley crop last year, and we've seen the effect on the hop crop which is down a bit," he said.

Refresh UK chief executive Rupert Thompson called on brewers to be greener. "Adnams has invested in environmental initiatives such as its warehouse and lightweighting its bottles, but where are the rest of us

What are we all doing?" he asked.

"I'm personally very sad that Refresh is one of the last brewers in returnable bottles . If we introduce returnable again we could put some profit back in, and I'm not at all convinced about cradle-to-grave analysis that says returnable bottles and packaging don't work."

Asda beer buyer Ged Futter said the supermarket has committed to reducing packaging by 25 per cent. "How we go about that is something we have to work with brewers to look at," he said.