Some very wise words here from Jeremy Beadles of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association on the need for the drinks trade to speak with one voice.
On duty he “would like some tax freezes please”. But what of other critical issues, such as ways of tackling cheap off-trade alcohol?As I’ve often said before, the anti-drink lobby don’t care if you’re drinking in the pub or at home, they don’t care if you’re drinking Jaipur IPA or Carling, all they care is that you’re drinking at all. If different sections of the drinks trade start squabbling with each other and claiming the moral high ground, the only winners will be the neo-Prohibitionists.
Surely this is a tricky one for the head of a group that represents producers (including brewers such as Fuller’s and St Austell) alongside retail giants Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
“I think there’s a perception about cheap alcohol and some of it is not real,” he starts. “It is still a damn sight cheaper to buy alcohol in most of continental Europe than it is here.”
So youngsters pre-loading before hitting the pubs is a myth? According to Beadles, ‘pre-loading’ is not the issue some would have you believe.
“When you look at the level of pre-loading most people only have one or two drinks before they go out, so they are not blasted,” he says.
“There’s a small proportion who are, but does that mean we have to regulate the entire industry, the entire population – or should we find a different route?”
On that subject, Beadles is adamant minimum pricing is most definitely not the way to go. As well as, in his view, probably being illegal, it is also “simply about making alcohol too expensive for poor people to buy it”.