Weekly Newsletter from PROOF Insight

This week: On-trade Wine Share; MUP Increase; Champions League Beer Boost

Research news

Change in wine drinker’s behaviour marks an opportunity within the white & rose wine category

Wine has been struggling to recapture pre-COVID volumes; however, over the past year, white and rose have proved to be the areas of growth within the category. Recent research from PROOF Insight reveals that 71% of wine drinkers have been cutting back on going out for meals compared to last year, perhaps explaining why red wine, traditionally paired with food, has been losing its share of volume within the category in the GB on-trade.

Furthermore, MAT wine volumes to 12.08.23 declined -7.7% year on year in GB restaurants, but wine volumes in GB pubs grew by +2.2%, suggesting wine drinkers are still going out but choosing more low-tempo drink occasions instead. PROOF research shows that 59% of wine drinkers tend to order white or rose rather than red when going out for just drinks.

This highlights the importance of having the right white and rose range, particularly in wet-led sites, to capitalise on this growth opportunity. Italian and South African whites are proving to be more popular this year, as is Italian Blush Pinot Grigio. Although red is losing share, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir in decline, Merlot and Portuguese blends are gaining on last year’s volumes, and these will be important to have on the list in the run-up to the festive period when demand for red typically grows. PROOF’s GB on-trade Christmas report is available below for more on what consumers want for this coming season.

Sources: PROOF Insight consumer research, CGA 52 weeks to 12.08.23

Contact PROOF for the Christmas Report

Industry news

Scottish government considers increasing MUP to 65p

The Scottish government has launched a consultation to increase the minimum unit price by 15p to 65p. The current MUP of 50p per unit was introduced in May 2018, but the provisions are due to expire next April. If the increase is to go ahead, this would increase the price of a bottle of whisky at 40% abv by 30% to at least £18.20, and a 700ml bottle of gin or vodka would cost at least £17.07.

Responses to the consultation need to be submitted by 22 November 2023.

Sources: The Spirits Business, Public Health Scotland

UEFA Champions League kick off boosts beer and cider sales

6.6m pints of beer and cider were sold in the UK as the tournament kicked off on Tuesday, 19th, and Wednesday, 20th September, providing a necessary boost to pubs. CGA Daily Drinks Tracker also reflects this uplift; beer and cider volumes in managed pubs were up +9.4% and +8.8%, respectively, on Tuesday vs. the same day last year. Dwell time also increased by an average of 10 minutes on Tuesday and 6 minutes on Wednesday. Many matches will often occur during the weekdays, which publicans feel will help with those quieter evenings.

Sources: The Morning Advertiser, Oxford Partnership, CGA Daily Drinks Tracker

Strange brews & news

Beer spa cures ‘ale’ments?

A centuries-old tradition of beer spas is now revived in Prague, where customers can find relaxation, beauty and health benefits from bathing in beer. In a cellar by a roaring fire, beer barrel tubs are filled with hot water, hops and brewer’s yeast; claimed to provide essential vitamins, proteins, acids and other bioactive nutrients beneficial for skin, organs, digestion and the immune system. Whilst bathing, patrons are encouraged to drink unlimited beer from the taps conveniently located beside the tubs, whilst eating fresh beer bread!

Sources: PROOF Insight, Original Beer Spas Prague

Investments, acquisition & openings

  • Buffalo Trace to open Buffalo Trace Distillery London, an American whiskey experience in Covent Garden
  • Avalon Spirits acquires the Whiskey Row Bourbon brand
  • Longboys announces plans to open its largest site in London’s Borough Yards
  • Greene King’s pub, The Axe & Compasses, reopens after £1.6m overhaul
  • Pasture brand announces plans to open a new site in Birmingham next year

Sources: Restaurantonline.co.uk, The Morning Advertiser

Product launches & campaigns

  • Sharp’s release limited-edition cask hazy pale ale New Zingland to mark Cask Ale Week
  • Casa Lumbre released Alma Finca, an orange liqueur designed to be used in Margaritas
  • Champagne Salon releases 2013 vintage
  • Balblair highland distillery adds a 21-year-old single malt to its portfolio
  • Don Julio launches campaign, Por Amor, which aims to bring Mexico to a global stage and will be rolled out in markets around the world

Sources: The Drinks Business, The Spirits Business

To keep up-to-date on the latest drinks industry research and news, follow PROOF Insight on LinkedIn.

Redditch pub gets £217,000 makeover

The Greenlands on Studley Road in Redditch, formerly known as the Mayfly, re-opened on Friday 15th September following a major investment of £217,000. 

The pub is part of the Proper Pubs division at Admiral Taverns and has undergone a complete transformation to create a brand-new look with fresh décor to appeal to the local community. Inside, the pub has been completely transformed, featuring a brand-new bar, flooring and furniture throughout. Outside, the Greenlands hosts a large garden which includes a brand-new decking area. 

For opening weekend, customers enjoyed a prosecco reception, as well as an exciting schedule of entertainment, including live music, karaoke and a DJ, as well as a bouncy castle. 

Operator of The Greenlands, Rachel Whitehead, said: “Opening night was fantastic, it was amazing to see all our customers, old and new, coming to see what the pub has to offer!  

The feedback we received from our community was amazing, and we can’t wait to see them again soon!” 

The Greenlands provides a wide range of drink offers, including cocktails, wine, and fizz promotions, as well as a full sports package of Sky Sports, BT Sports and Horse Racing. The pub, which also has a pool and darts team, will be hosting an annual schedule of events for the community to enjoy such as regular quiz and karaoke nights, as well as a regular schedule of charity events to support local causes. 

Matthew Gurney, Operations Director for Proper Pubs, said: “The refurbishment at The Greenlands looks fantastic – the team have worked really hard to ensure it is a success for the local community. 

On behalf of the Proper Pubs team, we would like to wish our community hero, Rachel, every success for the future in making The Greenlands a fantastic hub of the community.” 

Proper Pubs is always supporting its communities through an array of events and charity fundraising initiatives, from Christmas selection box collections to local food bank donations. Proper Pubs recently installed its 105th defibrillator across its estate through the help of fundraising from its locals.   

A new look for Orchard Pig

Orchard Pig have announced the launch of a design, which is set to hit shelves next month. The new look will gradually roll out from the start of October into retailers and pubs, beginning with Reveller and Truffler 500ml bottles.   

With a simple, cleaner label, updated colour scheme and evolved brand logo, our new visual identity brings more clarity, character, modernity, and consistency to the Orchard Pig brand. Premium cues have been enhanced, with the simplified design set to command greater stand-out at fixture. 

The new look also features an updated Old Spot pig logo, which better reflects the brand’s roots. Taking inspiration from the pigs that once roamed the orchards of Somerset where the cider was first crafted, the rare breed with spots is the original Orchard Pig. The Old Spot pig was also front and centre through Orchard Pig’s summer advertising campaign, which led with the ‘Rare Breed’ message.  

With this new design, we set out to modernise our packaging and bring more clarity and consistency across our range of products whilst highlighting our point of difference, our Old Spot Pig.

Inside the bottle, it’s still the same great tasting apple cider – made from the best, bittersweet West-Country apples. With fewer bubbles in every serve, Orchard Pig is a uniquely refreshing and great tasting small batch cider that leaves you wanting more.  

Punch Pubs National Awards

Punch Pubs & Co. held their National Publican of the Year Awards last week, celebrating their very best Publicans and Management Partners from an estate comprising over 1,300 pubs.

Punch held a Gala event at their Burton-On-Trent Headquarters, completely transforming the venue to welcome and serve their deserved Publicans, industry guests and suppliers during an incredible night of celebration.

The event reinforced Punch’s commitment to being a Modern and Progressive Company. Previously, Punch had hosted separate regional award events, but Tuesday the 12th of September marked their first National Publican of the Year Awards for many years. Front and centre of the entire proceedings were the industry leading Publicans and Management Partners passionately competing in 10 categories, including Best Drinks Offer, Mental Health & Wellbeing, and the prestigious Publican(s) of the Year 2023.

After months of meticulous planning, the night of celebration commenced with a champagne reception served by the Punch Exec, led by CEO Clive Chesser, followed by a four-course dinner all created and served by the Punch team in a luxuriously decorated marquee. 

The awards were hosted by TV star Mark Durden-Smith, who was joined by Clive and Punch’s Chief Operating Officer, Andy Spencer.  

Proudly addressing the crowd, Clive said: “I am always humbled and immensely proud whenever I visit our pubs, and nothing has been more fun or exciting than meeting the fantastic people and pubs we have in the finals of these awards.”

“Having the pleasure of knowing many of you and your pubs, I share the view of my fellow judges that everyone sat in this room epitomises the true spirit of hospitality, and each of you runs a pub at the very heart of the communities they thrive within. It is our privilege to host you tonight in our home, in our own ‘public house’, and I am super proud of all of the office team who have volunteered to be your waiting team and look after you this evening, as well as our talented group of chefs in our food development team, led by Tom Allen.”

Following the big reveal of the first eight category winners was the penultimate Lifetime Achievement Award, filling the room with emotion when Clive announced it would go to one deserving Publican lovingly known as ‘Aunty Di’.

Referring to Diane Crathern of The Richmond Arms, Godalming, Clive said: “I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Diane’s pub on several occasions, and I can tell you, when you walk into her pub, you instantly feel a sense of warmth.

“You could, and people do, lose time in this beautiful, traditional pub because you’re made to feel at home. Diane thoroughly deserves this award; she has been a stalwart within her community for over forty years, and is quite simply an inspiration to anyone who wants to run a bloody good pub.”

With heightened emotions, it was time to reveal the night’s biggest winners. Paul and Emma Gibbon of The Plough in Prestbury, Cheltenham, took home the crown of Punch Pubs 2023 Publicans of the Year. 

CEO Clive Chesser applauded the husband and wife team for running a pub that their community loves and feels at home in, and also commended them for their collaborative work with the people in their communities and for nurturing talent. 

He said: “Paul and Emma are passionate about their team. When times are tough, and we’ve all experienced that more recently than ever, they are calm and pragmatic with a laser-like focus on what is needed to come through adversity and continue to thrive.

“They put their heart and soul into their pub every single day, whilst also being a huge advocate and champion of others, both locally and nationally.”

Paul and Emma were visibly moved by the reaction within the room and received a standing ovation and raucous cheers as they collected the night’s top award.

With all winners now announced, the energy was ramped up with a saxophonist, bongosero and vocalists from Birmingham-based band Luxe by TwentyOne Events, with the guests hitting the dancefloor to party the night away.

Punch Publican of the Year Awards 2023 – Winners


National Publicans of the Year – Paul and Emma Gibbon, The Plough Inn – Prestbury

Regional Publicans of the Year – 

Chris Stockton, The Ferry – Wallasey

Kate Lowe, The Shakespeare Inn – Hull

Emma Griffiths, The Wickstead Arms – Nantwich

Samantha Foster, The Ship – Grays

Becky Davies and Cameron Foster-Smith, The Bulls Head – Countesthorpe

Paul and Emma Gibbon, The Plough Inn – Prestbury

Steve and Trish Ulyatt, William Mitchell – Morecambe

Nik Ranhem and Nathan Fowler, The Dog House – Kennington

Dom and Shell Roberts, The Anglesey Arms – Halnaker

Best Pub Entertainment & Sport – Debs Wilbee, The Jolly Sportsman – Chesham

Community Champion – Selena and Brian Ogden, The Butchers Arms – Southam

Best Drinks Offer – Dennis Wann, The Sailmakers Arms – Hull

Best Outdoor Offer – Chris Driver, Oak Tree Inn – Darlington

Best Newcomer – David Donlan and Catherine Hall, Seven Stars – Poulton-le-Fylde

Best Food Offer – Tom and Katie Hannon, The Rising Sun – Truro

Mental Health & Wellbeing Award – Vivian Bulmer, Two Pointers – Leeds

Best Sustainable / Eco Friendly Pub – Michael Lenthall, Hen House – Cannock

Lifetime Achievement Award – Diane Crathern, The Richmond Arms – Godalming


Weekly Newsletter from PROOF Insight

This week: Christmas 2023; Hybrid Working; Rugby World Cup

Research news

Christmas 2023: Consumers saving up to make it a special one

Trading in the lead up to the festive season may prove challenging for on-trade operators this year due to the cost-of-living crisis, especially since 57% of consumers say they will cut back on spending in October and November in order to cover the expense of Christmas. However, PROOF Insight research reveals that 49 million adults will be visiting the on-trade during the festive season, +1m more than last year, provided no train strikes and severe weather impacts social plans. Moreover, 1 in 2 (50%) consumers want to splash out this Christmas and are saving up for the occasion. With almost 10% of the annual on-trade drinks value generated in the last four weeks of the year, planning ahead is key to make the most of the festive opportunity.

Despite the cost-of-living concerns, consumers are still more concerned about the quality (52%) rather than price (45%) when selecting where to go for a drink/meal out this Christmas. Operators should ensure they offer premium trade-up options as over half (64%) of consumers are happy to pay more for quality food and drink during Christmas. Stout, world lager, rum, liqueurs, brandy, sparkling wine and classic red wines perform particularly well during this period as well as seasonal drinks with 71% wishing to see these on menus.

Get in touch to receive PROOF Insight’s Christmas 2023 report to help plan ahead for this year’s key trading period for the on-trade.

Sources: PROOF Insight’s On-trade Christmas 2023

Industry news

Effects of hybrid working continues to be felt by on-trade

When in the office, workers are less likely to venture in to the on-trade than pre-pandemic. 6 in 10 actively avoid having drinks with colleagues after work, they are less likely to take lunch near their office and work breakfasts have declined by 18%. Cities are particularly affected with more hybrid workers and less spend; spend in The City and Canary Wharf is down 16.6% vs. pre-pandemic. Figures from February show that 28% of office workers regularly work from home, with this rising to 4 in 10 for those based in London, the highest across GB.

Sources: ONS, MasterCard, PROOF Insight

Rugby World Cup boosts sales in the GB on-trade

Round one of the Rugby World Cup 2023 saw sales up +6.1% across Friday 8th and Saturday 9th September in GB pubs and bars vs. the previous week, as the average pub served an extra 37 pints, according to Oxford Partnership. Outlets with outdoor areas showing sports fared particularly well, seeing footfall increase by 17.4% on Saturday as sports fans looked to make the most of the nice weather. World and premium lagers proved to be the biggest winners, whereas stout sales saw a drop of 8.6% compared to the average weekend.

Sources: Morning Advertiser, Oxford Partnership

Strange brews & news

A prayer and a pint? Cornish church installs beer pumps…

St Ia’s Church in St Ives, Cornwall, has installed temporary beer pumps in collaboration with St Ives Brewery to host a two-week music and arts festival. The pumps will help to keep festival-goers happy, but they have caused uproar amongst churchgoers – particularly when the current vicar was pictured pulling pints.

Sources: Drinks Business

Investments, acquisition & openings

  • McWin, the private equity firm backer of high street bakery chain Gail’s, acquires majority stake in Big Mamma
  • Market Halls, food hall operator, announces plans to open two to three Market Halls venues over the next five years
  • Japanese restaurant, Ginza, launches cocktail and sake bar called Hiroo in its St James’ restaurant
  • Café-bar concept, Bear, will open a site in Ashbourne later this year
  • Itsu will open their biggest site so far in London’s Bishopsgate
  • Heartwood Collection, acquires two new freehold pubs, one in south-west London and the other in Lichfield, as part of its expansion plans
  • Heineken acquires significant minority stake in Served, the RTD co-owned by Ellie Goulding

Sources: Restaurantonline.co.uk, The Caterer, Propel

Product launches & campaigns

  • Mindful brand launches an alcohol-free Tequila alternative, Soldadera
  • Vault City has released a new beer, Vault Dweller, which claims to be “the sourest beer ever”
  • Tullibardine has added an 18-year-old single malt to its range
  • Torabhaig distillery has released a limited-edition batch strength single malt whisky
  • Johnnie Walker has unveiled a limited edition, umami-forward Blue Label whisky
  • The House of Suntory has released a limited edition 21-year-old Hibiki whisky

Sources: The Drinks Business, The Spirits Business

To keep up-to-date on the latest drinks industry research and news, follow PROOF Insight on LinkedIn.