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Alcohol minimum price: the data that shows if it will have an impact

The Guardian

Setting an alcohol minimum price is the Government’s big plan to cut binge drinking. But what difference will it really make? We’ve got the data


What Effect Will Government Plans To Put A Minimum Selling Price on Alcohol Have?

Cut-price drink is a concern for health campaigners and pub groups alike. The former worry about the effect on our health, the latter about the future of the local pub.

So plans announced by home office minister James Brokenshire last month to introduce a minimum selling price on alcohol should be welcome news for both.

Once the proposals make legislation, alcohol will have to sell for at least the cost of duty plus VAT.

To see what effect this would have, we asked Assosia, a data company that collects information on supermarket promotions, for drink price data.

You can see the full data below, but our analysis shows that none of the 3,667 drink deals Assosia found would have been affected by the minimum pricing proposals.

The data also shows the strange effect of the UK’s duty laws. Cider can sell as cheaply as 21p per unit – even under the new proposals – due to its low duty. Spirits, by comparison, attract a much higher duty rate.

For most products, the ABVs shown are those given by the manufacturer, but for wine and champagne, an estimate of 13% was used. The alcohol percentage does not affect the minimum price for either product.

Assosia’s data is collected weekly by researchers who go into each of the UK’s major supermarkets and record details of high-profile promotions in store. We’ve used the data to check up on minimum pricing and see price-per-unit.

Multibuys are included by showing price-per-unit: a 3-for-£20 deal, for example, would give a unit price of £6.67.

What else looks interesting? What can you do with it.

Published in The Guardian, 16 February 2011