I see that Mike Lees, Managing Director of Tennent Caledonian Breweries, has given his qualified support for minimum pricing in Scotland:
He said the company would back minimum pricing as long as the measures proposed are “fair, proportionate and part of an overall programme to reduce the abuse of alcohol”.Ah well, that’s going to happen, isn’t it?
Of course, if you take the tobacco company approach to the alcohol industry, of running a cash cow in a slowly declining market, minimum pricing makes a lot of sense, as it protects your margins and eliminates most price competition. But it is not in the interest of consumers.
SNP MSP Michael Matheson welcomed Tennent’s backing for the proposal.But minimum pricing isn’t just about targeting low-end, dirt-cheap alcohol, is it? Even at 40p a unit it would lead to an increase in the price of many mainstream products. At 50p a unit it sweeps up, I would say, 80-85% of the market.
“This is indeed very welcome news,” he said. “Tennent’s understand that responsible producers have nothing to fear with minimum pricing and that only low-end, dirt-cheap alcohol will be affected.
As I said before, are a £1.10 half-litre can of Stella, a £4 bottle of wine or a £12 bottle of whisky really “dirt cheap”?
I would lay money that if we ever see minimum pricing in any part of the UK, the minimum price will be increased year-on-year by more than the rate of inflation.