Skip to main content
5th March 2013

WSTA urges Government to drop minimum unit pricing as alcohol consumption continues to fall

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has today called for the UK Government to drop its plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol, as new HMRC figures show that overall UK alcohol consumption is continuing to fall – down 16% since 2004. Per capita consumption is now less than 8 litres per head for the first time since 1998.

The latest HMRC clearance data, analysed by the British Beer and Pub Association, reveals that there has been a sustained downward trend in overall alcohol consumption – down 3.3% in 2012 alone.  This is the same decrease in consumption that the Government’s minimum unit pricing policy was predicted to achieve in its first year, calling into question if the Government now needs to press ahead with its plans.

Reports over the weekend suggest that the Prime Minister is now considering dropping the policy due to widespread Cabinet opposition to his plans. The UK Government has been consulting on plans to set a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol as part of its alcohol strategy but the WSTA is urging it to think again, given the continued drops in overall alcohol consumption in the UK.

WSTA Chief Executive, Miles Beale said:

“The Government needs to look hard at the facts and rethink its plans to set a minimum unit price for alcohol. The latest figures from HMRC show that overall alcohol consumption in the UK is on a sustained downward trend – down 16% since 2004. This is real evidence of a fall in consumption in one year equivalent to what the Government’s minimum unit pricing plans were predicted to achieve, but without the time, cost and pain.

“UK consumers are already feeling the pinch from increased energy prices, fuel duty and wage freezes, the last thing they need is more alcohol price hikes too.  Let’s remember that the UK is already one of the most highly taxed counties in Europe for alcohol.”

Notes to Editors:

The data was compiled by the British Beer & Pub Association, from data published on 28th February in the HMRC Alcohol Bulletin

“Consumption is expected to fall by 3.3%.” Pg2, Home Office Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment, 45p Minimum Unit Price:


Notes to Editors:

The WSTA is the UK organisation for the wine and spirit industry representing over 340 companies producing, importing, transporting and selling wines and spirits.
We campaign to promote the industry’s interests with governments at home and abroad.
We work with our members to promote the responsible production, marketing and sale of alcohol.

For more information please contact Aileen Keyes:

Tel:    +44 (0) 20 7089 3881
Mob:    +44 (0) 7504 498656