Tesco has been criticised for selling alcohol for as little as 69p a pint, just days after its Chief Executive hit out at cheap drink promotions.
Last week Sir Terry Leahy said he supported moves by the Government to crack down on binge drinking after a survey for his supermarket revealed customers’ concern about excessive alcohol consumption.
But it later emerged that the supermarket chain is selling two cases of some brands of beer and cider for just £16.
Nick Bish, from a retailing group which represents 9,000 pubs and bars, called Tesco “hypocritical”.
He said: “We would like to see Tesco put their money where their mouth is and actually stop selling alcohol as a loss leader.
“Beer should not be cheaper than water or milk.”
Last week Sir Terry said he would back any Government plans to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol.
The new Government has so far laid out proposals to ban below-cost selling of alcohol and to review controversial 24-hour drinking laws.
The Tesco boss said that customers told the supermarket in a survey that they were worried about the effect of binge drinking, with nearly 70 per cent thinking it was one of the most serious issues facing the country.
Sir Terry wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “We welcome the new Government’s commitment to act on below-cost selling of alcohol and today I pledge that we will support Government-led action to make this happen across the UK.
“We will also support any future discussions on a minimum price for alcohol.”
Sir Terry continued that “common sense tells us that price is a factor in excessive drinking, and this is supported by the fact that more than half of the customers we talked to in our research believed the availability of cheap alcohol contributed significantly to the problem”.
He added that the company would work with charity Alcohol Concern, which has recently criticised cheap booze deals, to tackle problem drinking in central London.
In February health experts slammed supermarkets’ sale of cheap alcohol.
Charity Alcohol Concern at the time went so far as to say that supermarkets using alcohol as a “loss leader” are “ruining the health of this country and leading to more crime and disorder”.
Don Shenker, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, also said: “Supermarkets pretend to champion the consumer and yet their alcohol price discounting has led to a direct rise in alcohol related health harms and costs to the NHS and police.”