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SABMiller calls on UK Government to re-consider minimum pricing

6 February 2013

SABMiller has submitted its response to the UK Government’s consultation on its proposed alcohol strategy, which closes today (Wednesday 6 February 2013), highlighting research that shows the policy will disproportionately affect responsible drinkers, particularly those on low incomes, while having little impact on heavy drinkers. 

By commissioning research from independent and well-respected organisations SABMiller has sought to understand the public health and economic impact of minimum pricing. The analysis that has been carried out shows that a minimum price of 45p would have the greatest impact on low income consumers, particularly those living in Yorkshire, Wales and the East Midlands1.  It also found that because consumption rises in line with income it would have no impact on the top 20% of earners – the group with the greatest proportion of hazardous and harmful drinkers2.   A review of all the public health funded evidence on the price sensitivity of drinkers has also found that heavy drinkers are the least responsive to increases in price3.

In addition, SABMiller is concerned about the negative impact that minimum pricing could have on the UK’s ailing pub industry. Four in ten people (39%) who took part in a recent YouGov survey4 said they would drink less in the pub if minimum pricing increased the cost of drinking at home. 

Commenting, Scott Corfe from the Centre for Economics and Business Research said: “Our research shows that minimum pricing would be a regressive measure with responsible drinkers in the lowest income groups hit hardest financially.”

Patrice Muller from London Economics said:  “We looked at all the studies funded by public health bodies in the US and UK and all but one came to the same conclusion: the people who change their drinking habits the most are moderate consumers.  Heavy drinkers are the least affected by price.” 

SABMiller believes that proper enforcement of existing licensing laws, better education for parents and in schools and targeted community-based programmes are the best ways to tackle the harmful use of alcohol.

Mike Short, SABMiller’s Senior Vice President of Industry Affairs, said: “By proposing minimum pricing the Government has chosen a poorly targeted policy which penalises the majority and ignores the specific behaviours of the minority of people who drink harmfully.  People in the UK are drinking less than they used to and the average person already drinks less than the weekly recommended guidelines. We would urge the Government to carry out a further analysis of the evidence before forcing responsible drinkers to pay more.”


Notes to editors

  1. Impacts on consumer spending and distributional consequences, Cebr
  2. Differential price responsiveness among drinker types, London Economics review of all UK and US public health funded studies published between 1995 and 2009
  3. Cebr analysis of the Family Expenditure Survey and General Lifestyle Survey
  4. YouGov  poll on minimum pricing
  5. HMRC figures show that alcohol consumption has fallen 12% since 2012; figures from the ONS show that the average person now drinks 11.5 units a week

The full consultation response can be read here

SABMiller plc is one of the world’s leading brewers with more than 200 beer brands and some 70,000 employees in over 75 countries.  The group’s portfolio includes global brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft and Grolsch; as well as leading local brands such as Aguila (Colombia), Castle (South Africa), Miller Lite (USA), Snow (China), Victoria Bitter (Australia) and Tyskie (Poland).  SABMiller also has a growing soft drinks businesses and is one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products.

In the year ended 31 March 2012 the group reported EBITA of US$5,634 million and group revenue of US$31,388 million. SABMiller plc is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.


SABMiller plc
t: +44 20 7659 0100

Rebecca Spargo
Industry Affairs Media Relations Manager
SABMiller plc
T: +44 20 7927 4729
M: +44 7436 546 657

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