Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has said it will replace champagne with sparkling wines from the UK from next month.
The company’s founder, Tim Martin, who campaigned for Brexit, said it was part of a transition away from products made in the European Union.
Under the plan, British wheat beer and alcohol-free beer will replace the current beers brewed in Germany.
Mr Martin said the new drinks would be cheaper than the European Union products that they are replacing.
He said: “There will be an inevitable transfer of trade post-Brexit to countries outside the EU, which will reduce prices in shops and pubs.
“The products we are now introducing are at lower prices than the EU products they are replacing.”
The move was part of a review all products over the next six to 24 months, he said, adding: “We intend to honour existing contracts with EU suppliers, some of which have several years to run.
“However, we are starting to make the transition to non-EU trade now.”
Mr Martin called the EU customs union “a protectionist system which is widely misunderstood”.
“It imposes tariffs on the 93% of the world that is not in the EU, keeping prices high for UK consumers.
“Tariffs are imposed on wine from Australia, New Zealand and the US, and also on coffee, oranges, rice and more than 12,000 other products,” he said.
Wetherspoon, which says it has 2 million customers visiting each week, will replace champagne with sparkling wines from the UK, such as from the Denbies vineyard, and Hardys Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay from Australia.
The chain sells fewer than 100,000 bottles of champagne a year.
“Champagne has lost market share to lower price sparkling wines,” Mr Martin said.
Wetherspoon sells 2 million bottles of sparkling wine annually.
Wine of choice
A representative of France’s champagne industry was unconcerned by the decision. “It seems to be economically driven, combined with Mr Martin’s strong expressed feeling about European products,” said Francoise Peretti, director of the Champange Bureau UK.
“UK consumers have clearly voted it [champagne] its sparkling wine of choice, making the UK the leading export market for champagne,” Mr Peretti said.
Wetherspoon said its new wheat beers brewed in the UK will include Blue Moon Belgian White, Thornbridge Versa Weisse Beer and SA Brains Atlantic White.
Alcohol-free Adnams Ghost Ship will replace Erdinger alcohol-free beer from Germany.
Wetherspoon will continue to serve Kopparberg cider from Sweden, as the company has said it will transfer production to the UK post-Brexit. “In similar situations we will work closely with suppliers of niche products,” Mr Martin said.
The pubs sell 6 million bottles of Kopparberg each year.