Current Affairs Pilsner Urquell announces slight price increase of bottled beer
The leading Czech beer producer, Pilsner Urquell, has announced a slight increase in the prices of its bottled and canned beer on the domestic market. The Plzeň-based group says it will not raise the price of its world-famous brew sold in kegs and tanks, ostensibly to attract more people to pubs and restaurants. But experts say the move will do little to reverse the trend which has seen more and more Czechs having a beer at home rather than out on the town.
Every autumn, Pilsner Urquell raises the prices of its beer to match the inflation and higher ingredient costs. This year, however, the increase will only apply to its bottled and canned beer, and will be very moderate – on November 1, the prices of bottled Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast and Velkopopovický Kozel will rise by 0.7 percent. Kateřina Krásová is a spokeswoman for Pilsner Urquell, part of the multinational brewing company SAB Miller.
“The current price adjustment will only affect beer in bottles and cans; the prices of kegs and tank beer will remain the same. We believe this will also contribute to our efforts to support beer culture in the Czech Republic, and it will bring more customers to pubs and restaurants.”
The Czech beer market has undergone a transformation in recent years when for the first time ever, the sales of bottled and canned beer exceeded those of draft beer in pubs, restaurants and bars.
This year, on-trade sales of Czech beer have so far accounted for some 43 percent of total sales. But it’s unlikely that Pilsner Urquell’s move will not affect the trend, says the head of the Czech Association of Hotels and Restaurants, Václav Stárek.
“The increase in the price of bottled beer is very minor, it’s less than one percent, so I don’t think it will have a direct impact on the numbers of restaurants- and pub-goers. On the other hand, it’s good to hear that the price beer in kegs will be kept on the same level.”
Do you think the trend of more people drinking beer at home can be reversed by breweries’ pricing policies?
“I don’t think so. It would have to be a significant difference. But this trend started some four years ago; people now prefer to throw a party at home than in a restaurant. This trend has been here for a while, and we see a decrease in revenues on draft beer in restaurants.”
The Prague-based beer writer Max Bahnson, who goes by the pen name Beer Philosopher, agrees the decision to keep the prices of draft beer unchanged will have little if any effect.
“To me, it’s more of a PR stunt than anything else. The price of bottled beer, especially of the Prazdroj brands, is subsidized by the price at which they sell the same beer to pubs. For example, a pub will buy half a litre of Gambrinus světlý, the best-selling beer in the country, for 14 crowns. That is more than the very same beer costs in a supermarket.”
Meanwhile, some Czech breweries including Náchod and Vyškov are likely to follow suit and increase the prices of their products as well. Other beer producers said they were calculating their costs, and would announce their decisions later.