Jody Scheckter admits Laverstoke Park Farm beers will 'probably' go out of business

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Portman group Beer

The Portman Group has reissued a call for retailers and hospitality businesses not to place any orders for for Laverstoke Park Farm ale and lager
The Portman Group has reissued a call for retailers and hospitality businesses not to place any orders for for Laverstoke Park Farm ale and lager
The Portman Group has reissued a bulletin calling on all socially responsible retailers not to place any orders for Laverstoke Park Farm ale and lager products in their current packaging, a move Jody Scheckter has claimed will 'probably' put the beer out of business.

Last week the body, which is supported by over 140 organisations, said retailers and hospitality businesses would be requested not to place orders for the products after 17 May.

“Unlike many responsible producers, Mr Scheckter refuses to work with the Portman Group's free Advisory Service to ensure Laverstoke's labels comply with the rules," said Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group. "The Advisory Service will continue to be available to him," he added.

Out of business

The saga surrounding the former Formula One world champion's organic beers began in October last year when an Independent Complaints Panel ordered Laverstoke Park Farm to change the labels on its bottles because it said they could appeal to children.​ The body said the bottles breached the Group's Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The bulletin was suspended in December pending an appeal to the High Court. This was eventually rejected however when the judge described the appeal as 'devoid of merit'. 

Last month Laverstoke's founder revealed he was refusing to comply with the Panel's decision​ as he insisted changing the product's labels was 'not a viable option' as it would cost too much after he had already paid out a significant amount in legal fees.

Speaking to BigHospitality, Scheckter reacted to the reissuing of the bulletin by claiming the likelihood was the beer would now go out of business.

"The fact is that it will cost us over £50k to repackage our ale and lager and in the process, lose our brand identity on the bottles," he said. "The brand taken me over 10 years to establish and would cost millions to relaunch so we have no option but to leave it as it is and it probably will put our beer out of business."


The original Panel decision came about after a member of the public submitted a complaint that the 'childish nature of the drawing and the colouring' of the bottle labels, which feature a hand-drawn image of the farmer character 'Mr Laverstoke', could be confusing and appeal to under-18s. 

However Scheckter has consistently said the image, which appears on a range of the Hampshire farm's products, does not encourage under-18s to drink.

"What the Portman Group has done has nothing to do with responsible drinking and in particular under 18-year-olds drinking," he claimed.

The producer's founder said he had tried to work with the body but was unable to reach a compromise with them on the 5% abv ale and 4.5% abv lager which have been brewed under license for the farm for five years.

"They (the Portman Group) admit that our beer does not attract teenagers and their hypothesis about a four year old possibly picking up an open bottle of beer from the kitchen table is absurd."

Reissuing the bulletin, the Portman Group said their Advisory Service was still available to Scheckter and said the High Court ruling was clear and the rules surrounding alcohol marketing applied to all producers without exceptions.

"Before you start marketing alcohol in the UK, you must carry out due diligence checks to ensure that your products and packaging are acceptable and responsible - this saves significant time and costs in the long run," said Ashworth.

"There has been a clear ruling by an experienced High Court judge rejecting Laverstoke’s challenge to the Independent Complaints Panel's decision. The judge also recognised the reasoning of the Panel in making its decision as 'impeccable'.

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