The case of the disappearing beer casks

05 Jul 2011 10:16:16.990
 PA 209/11

Thousands of beer casks are going missing every year — according to the British Beer and Pub Association — and they estimate the problem costs the UK brewing industry £50m every year.

Now researchers at The University of Nottingham have been asked by the Food and Drink Innovation Network (iNET) to come up with a suitable method to keep track of beer casks and raise awareness of the problem.

The University’s Food and Biofuel Innovation Centre has been commissioned by the iNet to team up with the Derbyshire Brewers’ Collective under the iNet’s Collaborate to Innovate project, which brings together academic experts and industry to solve specific challenges in the food sector.
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Dr Jerry Avis, Project Manager at the Food and Biofuel Innovation Centre, which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund, said: “Although there is no easy answer to this costly problem we will be looking at how future technology can help the microbrewery industry keep track of its disappearing casks and kegs and cost effective ways of making their distribution network more secure. It would be useful for smaller brewers to have new guidelines which they can apply to minimise loss and increase profits.”

John Baldock, Chairman of the Derbyshire Brewers’ Collective and a Director at Derventio Brewery near Ashbourne, said: “Some casks can be stolen but more than likely they are lost — just left in yards, pubs and units, and not returned to their rightful owners.

“If you pay £74 to buy a cask and it gets left in someone’s back yard, you can’t use it. It’s dead money. It’s not working for your brewery. A lot of breweries rent casks, but if these casks go missing then we are paying rent per month for casks that we can’t use. The upshot is that there are a lot of disgruntled small brewers who haven’t got their own casks in their own yards. A lot of it is down to the fact that many wholesalers, landlords and draymen just aren’t aware of the cost to a brewery of not returning casks.”

The major breweries barcode their casks to keep track of them. But even then, a proportion goes missing.

The University of Nottingham will be working with the Derbyshire Brewers’ Collective — made up of 16 breweries across the county — to come up with cost-effective ideas to help solve the problem.

Food and Drink iNet director, Richard Worrall, said: “The iNet is committed to bringing academics and businesses together so that they can work collectively to solve common problems. When we heard how much money was being lost as a result of disappearing beer casks we wanted to do something to help find a solution which will benefit the microbrewery industry.”

The Food and Drink iNet, which is funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is one of four regional iNets developed to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Jerry Avis, The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 6011,; Louise Duffield, Perfect 10 PR, on +44 (0)115 846 2953 or 07787 552647,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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Published Date
Tuesday 12th October 2010

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