'Mass produced, bland foreign lager' - MP savages Heineken Olympic sponsorship

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Picture Copyright: Felix Triller/Flickr
Picture Copyright: Felix Triller/Flickr

Related tags: Olympic games

A leading UK politician has lashed out at the Olympic Committee for choosing Dutch brand Heineken as the official beer for London 2012, describing it as a 'mass produced, bland, foreign lager' and insisting a UK beer should have been chosen instead.

Greg Mullholland MP, who campaigns on behalf of the UK brewing industry (and chairs an all-party 'Save the Pub' group in Parliament) expressed his dismay at the decision, and called on the government to ensure that future opportunities to showcase British produce were not lost.

Mullholland said that beer was the UK's national drink, and that the country had a "strong and ancient tradition" ​of brewing.

"By choosing a mass-produced, bland foreign lager, the committee had ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest cheque book."

British identity for Olympics

Mulholland added: "The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer, the opportunity has been lost.

"The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics."

Asked whether the decision was more understandable given the financial outlay required to put on the games, Mullholland's spokesman, Greg Sutherland, told BeverageDaily.com:

"The point Greg is trying to make is that such a sponsorship decision shouldn't just be based on the size of a company's cheque book. We should be showcasing the best of British as one of the leading brewing companies in the world. Beer should be up there with other British produce.

"We have hundreds of small breweries opening up across the country. The Olympics is a fantastic opportunity to promote that and that opportunity has been lost to Heineken."

Mulholland has tabled an 'early day motion'* in Parliament expressing his disquiet about the Heineken decision, and Sutherland described this as "more of a parliamentary petition than anything. There won't be a debate on it - but MPs will sign up to it to show their support".

"In theory it could go along the legislative route, but this is highly unlikely. It's a way of getting something on the agenda, since backbench MPs add their support to an early day motion then the government must take of it.

Sutherland added: "It's got quite a lot of support so far. I've just had a quick look on Twitter - Greg [Mulholland] was on BBC radio this morning - and a lot of people are tweeting and saying 'yes, quite right'. That's an interesting angle on it."

Heineken points to British-brewed beers...

A Heineken spokesman told BeverageDaily.com that the company was "proud"​ to have been chosen as an official supplier and partner to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and noted that British-brewed ale John Smith's and British-made cider Strongbow would also be supplied to venues.

"Heineken is a major contributor to the UK economy, employing 2,500 people and many thousands more indirectly whilst contributing circa. 0.5% of the total UK GDP,"​ he said.

"We also take great pride in supplying a wide range of British-brewed beers to tens of thousands of pubs and clubs and it is this scale and capability that allows us to meet the logistical challenge of supplying 45 licensed venues that will host the 2012 London Games," ​he added.

Expressed in a single sentence, an EDM calls for a debate on a specific issues at an unspecified future date, and can be tabled and signed by MPs but not government minister. In practice very few are debated, and motions are open for signature for the duration of the parliamentary session.

BeverageDaily.com contacted the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) for a statement, but none was forthcoming as we went to press.

Related topics: Markets, Heineken

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1 comment

What a load of rubbish

Posted by Irritated,

How about McDonalds, Coca Cola, Panasonic, GE etc...I don't see any British companies as partners.

Out of all of them, Heineken are an ex-British company (Scottish & Newcastle) which was saved from eventual liquidation therefore keeping thousands of jobs and great British brands such as John Smiths, Newcastle Brown Ale, Bulmers, Strongbow etc.. Heineken in the UK also is the UK's biggest producer of beer and also operate to a standard which alot of companies aspire too.

This MP is talking a whole load of baloney and should really think before making comments such as 'should't just be based on the size of a companies cheque book'. What does he think sponsorship is for? It's to reduce the huge bill the Olympics is costing!

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