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Government to drop minimum pricing on alcohol

Plans to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in England and Wales are set to be abandoned this week – to the delight of the drinks industry and the dismay of health campaigners. Reports suggest that Home Secretary Theresa May will tell MPs that the Government has decided not to implement the proposal to set a minimum price of £0.40 per unit of alcohol, despite Prime Minister David Cameron backing the move last year.

Instead, plans to ban retailers from selling alcohol below cost price will be resurrected, targeting ‘loss-leader’ deals but leaving the vast majority of regular alcohol sales untouched.

Retailers are already moving away from price-cutting practices and placing more emphasis on developing sales of own and exclusive labels. The amount of wine sold on promotion in the UK off-trade has fallen by 6% in the last 12 months. An industry insider said “There is definitely a need for own and exclusive labels in the marketplace and there is a need for brands to move away from the deep discounts that have been there in the past.”