Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Half of wines sold in Scotland below proposed minimum price

Published:  23 August, 2013

Half of the wine sold in Scotland's off-trade in 2011 was below the government's proposed minimum price, according to a new report, underlining why several European countries have challenged the move.

Figures released this month by NHS Health Scotland show that, in 2011, 55% of off-trade wines were sold for less than 50p per alcohol unit, the base price formula proposed for all alcohol by the country's government.

Its report highlights that the key European producers of France, Italy and Spain would be among those potentially squeezed hardest by minimum pricing. However, retailers control pricing once any tax or regulation is accounted for and it remains unclear how they would react, and what the knock-on effect could be for shelf space or supply chain profit margins. 

Still, several countries have challenged the Scottish proposal at European Union level, arguing that it constitutes an unfair barrier to trade. The European Commission is considering its position, but has previously said it would prefer alcohol prices to be raised via duty tax increases over minimum pricing.

According to the NHS Health Scotland report, Italy accounted for 15% of all off-trade wine sales in Scotland in 2011, while France accounted for 10% and Spain 8%. Those countries saw 63%, 44% and 62% of wine respectively sold below 50p per unit in Scotland's off-trade. Bulgaria, meanwhile, only accounted for 0.3% of total off-trade sales, but saw 91% of wines sold below 50p per unit.
Beyond Europe, Australia accounted for 18% of wines sold and had 45% sold below the proposed base price. Chile could also be hit hard, accounting for 9% of off-trade sales but with 64% of wines below 50p per unit.

"These figures show that European wine producers were right to raise their objections about the impact minimum unit pricing could have on their products," said the UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association's chief executive, Miles Beale.

"It shows that wine from Italy and Spain would be disproportionately affected by a 50p minimum unit price."

On-trade sales data was not available.