By Duncan Brodie
, Business Editor
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
THE boss of Suffolk-based pubs and brewing group Greene King today welcomed the Government’s launch of proposals for a minimum price for alcohol.
Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, a long-standing supporter of minimum pricing, said the move was ““an important step in helping to address the UK’s long- term problems associated with binge drinking and alcohol-related social disorder”.
He added: “Alcohol abuse and misuse, fuelled by the easy availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets and convenience stores, can lead to antisocial behaviour and is at the root of many health problems.
“We believe it is essential to combine a minimum price per unit of alcohol with a robust strategy to protect and educate the public.”
However, Mr Anand said he favoured a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol, as planned by the Scottish government, rather than the 45p proposed by the Government in Westminster for England.
The higher price “could significantly increase the number of lives saved per year and avoid any issues associated with cross-border shopping between England and Scotland,” he added.
Emma Hibbert, head of corporate affairs at Southwold brewer Adnams, said: “All Adnams products are sold well above the the proposed 45p per unit.
“We firmly believe in the responsible promotion of alcohol and have worked hard over the years, through our own campaigns and those organised by the drinks industry to encourage people to enjoy alcohol in moderation.”
The Government believes a 45p minimum unit price will cut total alcohol consumption by 3.3%, the number of crimes by 5,000 per year and hospital admissions by 24,000, with 700 fewer alcohol-linked deaths annually, according to predictions.
Announcing a consultation on minimum pricing and other measures, including an end to multi-buy offers at supermarkets and off-licences, Home Office minister Damian Green said: “The evidence is clear – the availability of cheap alcohol contributes to harmful levels of drinking.”
He added: “It is just a fact of economics and indeed of life that if you put the price of a particular product up, demand for it goes down.”
However, some organisations within the drinks industry said responsible consumers would suffer from minimum pricing, and suggested the move could break EU law by hitting the price of imports.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “Minimum unit pricing and the proposed restrictions to promotions are wholly untargeted and will unfairly punish millions of consumers and businesses in the UK, while doing nothing to tackle the root causes of alcohol misuse.”
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: ”We strongly believe that alcohol should be priced in a way that is socially responsible, but there are concerns that minimum pricing would penalise a sensible majority of people who drink in moderation.”