Scotland introduces Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol

Drinks: Drinks
Location: Scotland
Other: Business

Scotland is set to become the first country in the world to introduce a Minimum Unit Pricing for alcohol.

Following a lengthy legal battle, the UK Supreme Court today overruled a three-way challenge by the trade bodies the Scotch Whisky Association, SpiritsEurope and the Comité Européen des Enterprises Vins.

It means that the Scottish Parliament could be free to introduce a MUP of £0.50/unit as early as next year.

Because MUP sets a minimum retail price, and bars, hotels and restaurants all sell their products at higher prices in any case, the on-trade are unlikely to be directly affected by the legislation.

Under MUP, a bottle or can’s price is calculated according to the number of units of alcohol it contains. A standard-sized 13% bottle of wine (9.8 units) would have to cost at least £4.90, a 37.5% spirit (26 units) would be £13, a 40% spirit (28 units) £14.

Worst affected, however, would be strong cans of beer and cider. While a 4% 500ml can would need to cost at least £1.00, under MUP an 8% can would be twice that – and significantly more than many of these products currently retail for.

This, according to the bill’s defenders, is the whole point.

Commenting on its decision, the Supreme Court said that Minimum Unit Pricing ‘targets the health hazards of cheap alcohol and the groups most affected in a way that an increase in excise or VAT does not.’

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said she was ‘delighted’ by the decision.

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

Leave A Reply