Is Stella as cheap as Cameron thinks?
“I think if what you’re trying to do is stop supermarkets from selling 20 tins of Stella for a fiver that’s what we’ve got to go after.”
David Cameron, interview with Manchester Evening News about a ban on cheap alcohol, 11 August 2010
Cathy Newman checks it out
David Cameron told us this week he was a fully paid-up member of the sharp-elbowed middle classes, so it should come as no surprise that he’s got an eye for a good bargain. However FactCheck was surprised that someone of the PM’s social pedigree was quite so familiar with the cost of a few “tins” – as he so colloquially put it. Or was he not quite as lager-literate as he let on? Whether you’re a member of the middle classes or the Bullingdon Club, is there really such a good deal to be had on Stella? FactCheck is on the (beer) case.
Over to the team for the analysis
According to price comparison website mySupermaket, Tesco and Ocado offer the cheapest price right now on 20 cans of Stella. A pack of the 5.2 per cent strength lager would set you back £15 – three times what Cameron suggested.
But what about all those cut-price promotions? We asked the five biggest UK supermarket chains just how cheaply they’ve sold Stella Artois. So far, no one we spoke to could remember flogging cans for 25p each – the bargain Cameron claimed to have spotted.
However, we did unearth a hearty round of expired beer bargains. During the World Cup, for example, shoppers at Tesco could bag 36 cans of Stella for £20 – an equivalent of 56p a can. Asda had 20 cans of the “reassuringly expensive” stuff for £9 – still a cost of 45p each.
But if we open the bar wider than Stella, though, the PM’s pricing sounds less outlandish. A price war in 2007 saw basic own-brand supermarket lager flogged for as little as 22p a can. This would mean 22 cans for just £5 – although the rock-bottom lager was also less than half the strength of Stella Artois. And more recently, Morrisons came under fire from campaigners for a four-day offer of four bottles of Carlsberg for a pound – which could have given a drinker 20 toasts for a fiver.
So although there’s nothing to stop a supermarket from selling Stella for as little as the PM suggested, our pub crawl up and down the aisles hasn’t hit upon such a bargain. We asked Downing Street whether the PM had found a secret Stella store or if he was just speaking metaphorically, but are still awaiting a response.
Cathy Newman’s verdict
Cameron appears to have betrayed his upmarket roots by singling out Stella. There’s a reason why it markets itself as “reassuringly expensive”: while others have dropped their prices, Stella won’t be sold so cheap. So prime minister, if you can find us 20 cans for a fiver, FactCheck will stand you a round.