Thursday, 16 November 2017

More minimum pricing thoughts

Following yesterday’s announcement, here are a few more thoughts off the top of my head on the minimum pricing issue.

  • None of the people praising this will be personally affected by it

  • It’s widely imagined that it will only hit cheap, bottom-end products, but in fact it will affect most beer, cider and spirits, by volume, sold in the off-trade, and about a third of wine

  • It will seriously undermine the alcohol sales model of discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl

  • All the benefit will accrue to producers and retailers of alcohol, not government. It is in effect a legalised price-fixing ring. No wonder some brewers like Greene King and Tennent’s are foolishly supporting it

  • It will have a marked inflationary effect. If applied across the UK, it would add a few points to the headline inflation rate

  • It will create an unprecedented differential between prices for the same product in different parts of one country, with an inevitable surge in cross-border shopping and grey-market reselling

  • Will it be possible to apply it to purchases made from Internet vendors in England but delivered in Scotland?

  • It will eliminate all the cheap value brands that currently exist, and turn minimum price alcohol into a commodity product

  • And it will also push up prices higher up the scale as producers seek to maintain a price differential

  • Paradoxically, it may encourage alcohol producers to spend more on advertising as they can no longer differentiate products by price

  • If implemented in England, it would have a devastating effect on the farmhouse cider industry, much of which currently pays no duty and sells its products at the farm gate for well below 50p/unit. Many producers would probably abandon commercial sales entirely, or just sell to friends “off the books”

  • It will negate the effect of High Strength Beer Duty, as it will no longer be possible to sell weaker beers for a lower price per unit. For the same reason, it will remove any benefit to the consumer of lower strength duty relief

  • It will result in a much closer association in consumers’ minds of “premium” with “stronger”

  • It will lead to an increase in illegal distilling, with potentially serious health consequences. By supposedly addressing one health issue, you create another

  • There will inevitably now be strong pressure to implement it in England

21 comments:

  1. It's interesting to think that those campaigning for MUP will have considered a that same list (or very similar) and either dismissed the arguments in it or even considered many of them to be positives
    These people are not about health, they're temperance loons, so unintended consequences, such as loss of sales, loss of jobs, closure of business and general decline in trade, will be fully intended and completely welcomed, while at the same time, publicly denied

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    1. Yes, it's not about health, it's basically about social control of the lower orders.

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  2. In a year or so, the effect on alcohol-related deaths in Scotland will be examined. Any existing trend will be ignored unless it's convenient not to do so. If the number of alcohol-related deaths has fallen, the policy will be trumpeted a success and the MUP will be increased to save more lives. If the number of deaths has not fallen, the policy will be judged as a partial success and the MUP will be increased to make it work.

    In England, public health declare an alcohol crisis in Carlisle as alcohol sales unaccountably soar, flying in crack teams of purse-lipped harridans to hector the locals.

    I know this, Mystic Meg told me.

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  3. Whilst I may not share all of your views, I'm increasingly exasperated by the government agencies like Drinkaware and the medical practitioners telling me what to do about alcohol. Particularly when it's combined with data approaches that are hardly robust. I honestly completed a Drinkaware survey on my alcohol consumption yesterday. I drink more than 80% of the population according to my results. Wrong.
    Am I in denial or is it that alcohol surveys are notoriously hopeless (nearly all respondents underscore their consumption) and their survey questions ask nothing about beer strength. Therefore a habitual 4% BBB drinker like me will always do badly in such a survey compared to a craft double IPA imbiber.

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    1. I think the *average* adult, based on sales figures rather than consumption surveys, drinks about 18 units of alcohol a week, so even if you perceive yourself as a pretty moderate drinker, it could well be the case that you drink more than 80% of the population.

      It's widely recognised that sales figures are about one-third higher than surveys would suggest, due to a combination of under-reporting and the fact the surveys probably don't reach the heaviest drinkers, or they refuse to answer them.

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    2. I suspect that 'sales' data would probably not stand up to much scrutiny. I'll be amazed if the Drinkaware base data isn't survey based. After all they wouldn't want to make folk happy about their consumption levels!

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  4. There will be lots of consequences & all but one will be bad.

    The one which I'm looking forward to is the when the onanists that support MUP realise that their own special middle class booze is only booze to the temperance lobby and when the that gets hit society will shrug it's shoulders because they don't booze no more. 5 years of price increases to improve the effectiveness of the vital health measure plus an advertising ban to wait for.

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    Replies
    1. Professor Pie-Tin17 November 2017 at 11:39

      Christ,I'm in agreement with this muppet.

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    2. i do hope the shock has not prompted you to soil yourself in public. wahay.

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  5. Every time i here that drink aware advert on the radio it makes me want to have a drink.
    GPs seem to want to know about what you drink,on my many hospital visits in the last two weeks they seem more bothered if i have smoked or ever smoked,not done either,i did lie about my drinking i said 60 units a week when it is well over that,they did not seem bothered and said in my situation do what you want and go out for a drink if i feel well enough to.

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    1. I don't live in the UK but according to the Drink Aware website six pints of 4% beer is 14 units. Alan, you could drink 60 units on a good day if you tried hard enough. :)

      Cheers!

      PS - Hope you get to feeling better soon mate.

      Delete
  6. I think it will affect more than a third of wine. My usual tipple is Morrisons Italian red wine, currently £3.90 a bottle. Minimimum pricing would send it to £4.69 a bottle. What then for the wines Morrisons currently sells at £4.75 a bottle? The price would surely increase and this knock-on effect would persist, probably at least to the £6.00 mark.

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  7. The biggest problem is alcohol is a drug, and when you ban a drug people find alternatives, they don't stop. If people can't afford alcohol they will either buy it on the black (or grey) market or they will use a different drug. Prohibition does not work.

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  8. Plus it's not exactly difficult to make your own beer or wine legally for a lot less than 50p a unit.

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    Replies
    1. It's not easy if you are homeless....

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    2. No, but the homeless person might well know a man who can...

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    3. or the man who can might find the homeless person(s)

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  9. Governments that mess with beer inevitably fall. It also gives ammo to the opposition who might say they will abolish it. It had better not arrive in England either!

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    Replies
    1. Hard to see Labour, with its sneering contempt for the working class, opposing it, though. All the main parties, even Tories, supported it in Scotland.

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  10. There will inevitably now be strong pressure to implement it in England

    It's already started. I caught an item on the local news covering a local charity's call for MUP in England. I use the word charity very loosely as they claim funding from local authorities. If they're so keen on health why do they insist on raising my blood pressure?

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  11. The only factor I can see stopping it is if there is a political backlash in Scotland against the Nats. If they lose votes England & Wales will think twice. If the jocks accept it it will sail through the rest of the UK.

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