A leading association of small businesses in the UK has accused Diageo and Anheuser-Busch InBev of putting unfair pressure on  suppliers in the recession by changing their terms of payment.

Both drinks companies have been added to the "late payment hall of shame" compiled by the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

InBev UK confirmed to just-drinks today (24 February) that it has doubled its maximum period for paying suppliers from 60 days to 120 days.

Diageo said in a statement that it has extended its maximum payment period for non-contracted suppliers around the world from 45 days to up to 60 days.  

Phil Orford, CEO of FPB, acccused the firms of "taking advantage of their dominant position in this sector at the expense of their supplier base". The FPB also claimed that A-B InBev has staggered payments to suppliers involved in capital expenditure projects.

An InBev UK spokesperson said of payment period extension today: "It may take time for some of the suppliers to get used to the new system but we will do what we can to help them with the transition." She added that the group "values greatly the suppliers that we work with".

Diageo said of its payment terms change: "In the majority of cases, this is a maximum increase of 15 days. Where suppliers are unable to operate within these terms, we have advised them to contact us to discuss alternative payment terms."

The group said that, from 25,000 letters issued globally, 1% of recipients have expressed concern.

It added: "As part of our change process we are also notifying our non-contracted suppliers of an alternative Diageo Purchasing Card payment process that will enable them to be paid within a few days for goods & services less than GBP1,000 - relevant to many transactions."