Binge Overpricing




Bonkers writes:

There was a Eurostat report out yesterday that showed Ireland is now the most expensive country in the EU to buy alcohol with costs here running at 175% of the EU average.

We are the second most expensive for tobacco (behind the UK) and third most expensive country in which to buy milk, cheese and eggs (all produced in vast quantities within our borders)

On alcohol we’ve recently seen former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar try to introduce a Minimum Alcohol Pricing bill which would undoubtedly make prices of alcohol rise to over double the EU average.

We’ve had politicians persistently tell us that ‘cheap alchohol’ in supermarkets is to blame for all sorts of societal problems. Instead of education our politicians use taxation.

Publicans have come out in favour of minimum unit pricing, on public health grounds, they say.

They even went so far as to lobby the Dept of Health and the Dept of Justice to get Minimum Unit Pricing introduced

I find it a bit strange then for publicans to be claiming that off-licence sales are ‘too cheap’ and need to be raised on public health grounds while at the very same time they were lobbying the Dept of Finance for “Maintaining the current hospitality VAT Rate; Increasing the VAT Threshold from €75,000 to €110,000; Reducing the Excise level on alcohol”.

So they want the government to increase the price of alcohol in supermarkets on health grounds but at the same time they want alcohol excise reduced to help decrease the price of alcohol in their own premises.

Does not compute, surely Irish publicans would never pull a stroke?



27 thoughts on “Binge Overpricing

        1. bisted

          …pub and an off-licence attached is common in Ireland. The VAT will notionly calculate the publicans margin as 14% through the off-licence and 49% through the pub. This is only a guide to the big picture but if the publicans returns differ from this average then the Revenue might look a bit closer

  1. lolly

    the independent off-licence trade is also in favour of minimum pricing as is the wine media (consumer and trade). the only part of the trade that is in favour are the big multiple groups and supermarkets that can off-set below cost selling with sales of other goods. People that like to drink quality rather than quantity also care. there is no doubt in my mind that binge drinking is encouraged by the below cost sales in supermarkets. at busy times for alcohol sales such as Christmas it is actually cheaper for independents to buy their beer and big brand spirits from supermarkets than from wholesalers. independents are closing at a high rate, jobs are being lost weekly and long held family businesses are closing (e.g. Deveneys in Rathmines which operated for over 50 years). this is changing the nature of employment in the trade and the nature of our towns and cities as more and more independent businesses are forced to close due to predatory pricing and unfair competition

    This is also about choice – if things persist the only outlets in which you will be able to buy alcohol will be supermarkets – how many craft beers, tiny production spirits (e.g. Bertha’s Revenge, Shortcross, Writers Tears) or unusual wines does the average supermarket stock? I’m not talking about cru classé Bordeaux or grand cru Burgundy here (although i’d like to have those available too) – when was the last time you saw any of the following fascinating wines/grapes in a supermarket – Txakoli, Georgian Rkatsiteli, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Negrette, Godello, Antao Vaz etc. etc.

    1. Anne

      ” People that like to drink quality rather than quantity also care”

      Care in general? How’d you mean they care? They don’t mind about paying more is it? Do they drink less because they can pay more though?

        1. Anne

          That’s great, that you know what he means..

          There are plenty of well seasoned drinkers binging on expensive whiskeys and malts..

          As there are non bingers who buy cheap alcohol.

          It punishes the poor. Alcoholics will find the money for their drink regardless… but with this being a revenue generating exercise, I’m sure that’s been factored in.

          1. Ricky Ricardo

            Not necessarily, Anne. It’s not conclusive but a previous study has shown that minimum pricing reduces the number of alcohol-related deaths.

            Sure, minimum pricing might punish the poorer alcoholic in terms of freedom of choice (something which the EU has challenged Scotland on in relation to its minimum pricing policy) but if it’s saving the lives of vulnerable people, isn’t that the lesser of two evils?

          2. milk teeth

            What you seem to miss here is its minimum price. It wont affect the price of expensive booze – only the cheap stuff…

          3. some old queen

            @ Milk Teeth. You can be certain that if there is a minimum price, all others will go up in price too in order to differentiate between products.

      1. lolly

        pedant. ‘also care’ about the way alcohol is sold below cost in a predatory fashion. supermarkets are damaging the wine and drinks trade by reducing choice and causing job losses. people that like decent quality wine in my experience (25 years in the trade, mainly in marketing and journalism) do not drink to excess, they drink with food – the healthiest way to drink.

        1. lolly

          of course they (we, I, ) drink to excess too – as Hugh Johnson wrote, the fact that “wine has the power to banish care” is a major part of its attraction. I want the grocery order put back in force to ban below cost selling more than minimum pricing.

    2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

      Tesco Finest do a Godello. I recognised it in your list because when I saw it in Tesco I had a WTF moment as I’d never heard of it.

        1. lolly

          it is of course true that you will find some of these grapes in supermarkets but they will never be from top producers. try the Brezo Godello from Sheridans Cheesemongers / Green Man. or the one in Celtic Whiskey Shop – Terra do Lobo. both are around €16

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            Will do. I’ll be cycling past the Green Man on me way home. I’ll pop in.
            Thanks, Lolly.

    3. Fact Checker

      Where is the evidence that supermarkets consistently cross-subsidise alcohol from other sales and sell it ‘below cost’?

      I have heard it asserted many times and I have never seen evidence.

  2. Pip

    But isn’t it obvious that minimum pricing will drive up prices of premium brands?
    It has to – if the Dutch Goooooold is close behind the Heino, who’ll buy the DG?
    Indeed, who’ll buy the Heino – for rather different reasons.

  3. sǝɯǝɯʇɐpɐq

    The price tag on my alcohol is never a concern to me.
    My only worry is that I don’t get caught shop-lifting.

  4. Harry Molloy

    I’m surprised eggs, milk and cheese come out as expensive, I always thought they seemed cheap.

  5. boggo

    on a trip into poland recently I stopped at a petrol station where six 500ml cans of Tyskie or Lech were €1. They would be €8 or €9 for the six in Ireland.

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