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Organic Beer Sales Grow - Greenies May Be Right

UK supermarkets say demand for organic beer made from organically grown New
Zealand hops has grown amid deepening public concern over food safety and
the environmental impact of modern farming. John Howard reports.

The "greenies" might be right, 1998 sales of organic food have grown in the
UK to around $NZ one billion from $NZ 200 million in 1993 and retailers are
keen to translate that success into the beer market.

Glenn Payne, category buying manager for Safeway, one of Britains biggest
four supermarket chains says, " I think we'll see more and more brands which
will have organic as a selling point."

Saving the world might be the last thing on most people's minds when they
reach for a beer but growing numbers of Britons are unwinding with a glass
of foaming brown froth wafting with a sharp tang resembling overripe
bananas.

Organic beer looks like any other beverage as it ferments in vats but,
according to Graham Auton marketing manager for the Samuel Smith Brewery,
the big difference is the New Zealand organically grown hops that can push
the retail price up 5 percent or higher.

"People drink it who care about the environment and are prepared to pay that
little bit more for quality, he said.

Supermarkets say newspaper stories of safety scares over genetically
modified crops, which have dominated world headlines this year, have fueled
demand for organic food, perceived as being free from harmful pesticides and
kind to the planet.

The fashionable Islington area pub, Duke of Cambridge, sells the organic
beer charging 50 percent more for its Freedom organic pints than many other
pubs charge for normal beer.

Co-owners Geetie Singh and Esther Boulter say their pub has been so
successful that they plan to establish more like it to reach untapped
consumers who would buy organic beer if it were more widely available.

While most of the great beer-drinking public in the UK are still interested
in the so-called "normal beer sales of organic beer, like organic food, is
increasing.

There's also a growing number of schools in Britain and the United States
who now insist their pupils eat only organic lunches.

Sales or organically grown New Zealand hops is fine - but why aren't we
making and selling the organic beer as well. There's a Scoop idea for
someone.

Feedback from Scoop reader: "Emerson's Brewery in Dunedin makes an organic beer. Its a pilsener called Pride of the Plains." Scoop's resident beer aficionado advises that it is also delicious.

ENDS

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