The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called on the Government to freeze beer duty for the second time this year as beer sales in the UK slump to their lowest on-trade level since 1969.
According to the industry body, British pubs are now serving 14 million fewer pints per day than they were at the peak year for UK beer sales in 1979.
The BBPA called for a freeze in beer duty in March ahead of the Budget.
While the BBPA cites rising costs of barley, malt, glass, aluminium and energy as a contributing factor, it did add that the current tax policy was an increasing burden.
Since 1997, beer duty has increased by 27% while consumption has fallen by 11%. By comparison spirits duty has risen by only 3% during the same period as spirits drinking has risen by 20%. Similarly, wine duty has increased by 16% as wine drinking has increased by 46%.
Rob Hayward, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "The time to support our national drink is long overdue. We are calling for Government policy to encourage and support Britain's businesses. British brewers and beer are of world renown. But our efforts to remain competitive are being undermined by a tax policy that is eroding the foundations of our business."
Profits at major brewers in the UK have fell 78% between 2004 and 2006, leaving them with just 0.7 pence per pint profit compared to the 33 pence per pint brewers pay in beer duty.
Last week the Alcohol Health Alliance called for a 10% rise in alcohol tax and a greater regulation of the drinks industry.
By Christopher Walton
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