ABFI warns of dangers of minimum unit pricing

Once again, the looming threat of Brexit has the industry worried
Once again, the looming threat of Brexit has the industry worried

Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative group for Irish brewers, distillers and drinks distributors, has criticised calls from Alcohol Action Ireland for the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing.

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1 September 2017 | 0

Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative group for Irish brewers, distillers and drinks distributors has criticised calls from Alcohol Action Ireland for the introduction Minimum Unit Pricing, stating that the combination of MUP and Brexit would drive cross-border shopping and jeopardise the drinks industry and border economies, while doing little to tackle misuse.

“Proposals to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing will do little to tackle alcohol misuse, but will harm an industry that employs over 200,000 people, across the drinks and hospitality sectors,” said Patricia Callan, ABFI director. “It also contributes to local economies across the country.

“Irish consumers already pay the second highest amount of tax on alcohol in the EU, including the highest excise on wine and the second highest excise on beer and spirits in the EU, so clearly price is not the silver bullet to tackling alcohol misuse,” Callan said.

The Association also warned that Minimum Unit Pricing would  intensify cross border shopping, thus jeopardising border economies. “Sterling has depreciated significantly since the Brexit,” Callan said, “and experience confirms that consumers are willing to react in response to differences in cross-border prices. If Minimum Unit Pricing is implemented in the Republic but not in the North, then there will be a permanent shift in price levels, which will be to the detriment of the retail trade, consumers, and the Exchequer in the Republic.”

The ABFI has for a long time been calling for the reintroduction of the ban on below cost selling in order to address the issue of cheap alcohol. “It was the repeal of the Groceries Order in 2006 against the advice of the drinks industry which directly led to the use of alcohol as a loss leader by large retailers,” Callan added.

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