Booze hike | 

Price of some drinks set to double as minimum price for supermarket alcohol kicks in

A Supervalu offer of a 24 pack of Budweiser 500ml cans will increase from €18 to a minimum of €40.71
Stock Photo

Stock Photo

Eavan Murray

Some supermarket alcohol will more than double in price as new minimum pricing laws kick in from tomorrow.

All alcohol will have a minimum price based on the number of grams of alcohol, with one gram costing at least 10c.

It means some brands of spirits will cost several euro extra, while slabs of beer sold at promotional prices of around €20 will double in price.

In a price survey carried out over the last week of all major supermarkets, the Sunday World found major increases loom when minimum pricing is applied.

The legislation, introduced in May last year,

aims to reduce consumption by heavy drinkers by making strong drink less affordable and therefore reduce alcohol-related harm.

While the new system will not affect the price of premium alcohol, cheaper brand prices and promotional prices will rocket.

This has led to accusations that the laws unfairly target people on lower incomes.

The price of a 500ml beer (4.3pc) will be set at a minimum of €1.70, and a bottle of wine (750ml, 12.5pc), will cost at least €7.40. A 700ml bottle of spirits with 40pc alcohol will cost a minimum of €22.09.

Our supermarket price survey found many looming hikes, with some items which were on promotional sale for Christmas set to more than double. A Supervalu offer of a 24 pack of Budweiser 500ml cans will increase from €18 to a minimum of €40.71. That is equal to a rise from 75c per can to €1.70.

Aldi’s Corley’s Gin 700ml, which currently retails for €13.99, will rise to €20.71 while its Galahad Export 12-pack of beer will rise from €8.79 to at least €18.93.

Last week, a 700ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka (37.5pc) was priced at €15 in Lidl; this same bottle will be sold for at least €20.71 from tomorrow.

A 700ml bottle of Gordon’s Dry Gin in Lidl was selling for €15, but will now rise to €20.71.

While those opposed to the measure say it will drive consumers to the North to buy alcohol, others says the measures will effect much-needed change in society’s unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Eunan McKinney, head of advocacy at Alcohol Action Ireland, described the measure as a historic day for Ireland.

“It sets a floor price for alcohol beneath which it cannot be sold. That will drive that really cheap, strong, affordable alcohol out of the market,” Mr McKinney said.

“This is a historic development in many ways because Ireland will be the first member state of the European Union to introduce minimum pricing.

“It’s a very targeted measure that doesn’t go down the road of excise duties like cigarettes. What minimum pricing does is finally address the widespread availability of cheap, strong alcohol, which is so ubiquitous across the whole retail sector in Ireland.

“About 65pc of all alcohol we drink is sourced in the off-trade in supermarkets and convenience stores.

“And since the demise of the Grocery Order back in 2005, the hyper-discounting of alcohol has essentially fuelled that consumption. So by addressing this availability of really cheap, strong drinks, we have a chance to adjust a little. The modelling carried out suggests there could be anything up to a 15pc reduction in alcohol use among the high-risk users of alcohol.

“And across the whole population it could lead to a 9pc reduction.

“We produce annual price surveys that seek the cheapest alcohol available across the retail sector, and it shows that a man can drink the HSE low-risk guidelines of 17 standard drinks per week for as little as €7.65.

“While a woman can drink the same low-risk guidelines of 11 standard drinks for €4.95.

“What will happen is the cheap, strong alcohol like ciders and spirits will become more expensive, and that will drive behavioural change.”

A statement from Lidl said: “We take our responsibility with regards to the sale of alcohol extremely seriously and are proactive in adhering and updating our policies in line with legislation.

“Minimum unit pricing will have an impact on the price of some products. Despite this, we remain confident we will maintain our position as the best value destination for high quality beer, wine and spirits in the country.”

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