Government launches alcohol minimum pricing consultation

Posted: Wednesday, 28 November 2012 @ 12:22

The government has today launched a 10 week formal consultaion on its plans for the minimum price for alcohol, which it sees as a key instrument in its battle against “binge drinking” and the social and health consequences of alcohol abuse.

Basically it is proposing 45p per unit of alcohol. This is 5p more than it was suggesting in March. It is also proposing banning some promotional offers such as 2 for 1 and  BOGOF. But more worrying fro wine lovers is that a case of wine may not be sold cheaper than the 12 individual bottles on sale. It is quite mad that an accepted way round this would be to stop selling individual bottles! This can only drive up prices even where the minimum cost is well above the 45p per unit threshold.

But what exacltly is a unit of alcohol? It is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The calculation is the strength (abv) x volume (ml) divided by 1000. So a pint of lager (568ml) with an abv of 4.8 would equal 2.7 units with a minimum cost of £1.22. So a 6 pack of lager (440ml cans) with abv of 4.8 will have a minimum price of £5.70.

Other drinks would work out as follows:

Cider: a 440 ml can of 8.4%                      £1.66

Beer: a pint of 3.6%                                     £0.90  

Beer: a pint of 5.2%                                     £1.35

Cider: a litre of 8.4%                                    £3.78

Wine: a 750ml bottle of 12.5%                  £4.22

Wine: a large 250ml glass of 12.5%       £1.40

Whisky: a 700ml bottle of 40%                £12.60

Vodka: a litre bottle of 37.5%                   £16.88

This is unlikely to have any effect upon the pub trade in terms of pricing their products, but it will have a marked effect on the supermarkets and their heavily discounted prices used to attract customers. Unfortunately it is the responsible drinkers who buy in bulk at supermarkets and other outlets who will have to pay for the small minority who pre-load on supermarket cheap booze. What it may do is benefit the pubs if it encourages customers to spend more with them rather than pre-load, or indeed venture out rather than drinking home alone.

Nigel Musgrove

Licensing Law Specialist


Tel: 0845 003 5639


Blog by Nigel Musgrove
Nigel has been providing dispute resolution advice as a solicitor for over 35 years. As well as advising SMEs and business owners on disputes he also offers a specialist licensing law service. View profile
Call Nigel on +44 (0)1285 847 001 or by email
This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete and authoritative statement of the law, and what we say might be out of date by the time you read it. You should always seek legal advice to confirm whether or how any information in this article applies to your particular situation. We offer a free telephone consultation to discuss your particular circumstances.

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