UK alcohol consumption still lower than in 2004

26 August 2011 by
UK alcohol consumption still lower than in 2004

UK alcohol consumption in 2010 remains far lower than it was six years ago, despite rising slightly in 2010, according to the latest annual edition of the British Beer and Pub Association's (BBPA) Statistical Handbook 2011.

Consumption per head rose 0.6% last year, but the BBPA said that meant it was still 11% lower than in 2004 when a decline in consumption began. It also means the UK ranks below the European average in terms of consumption.

These hard figures, based on Treasury tax returns, prompted a call from BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds for a debate "firmly based" on the facts.

The figures also showed that the "tax gap" between what Britons pay on alcohol compared with their European neighbours was growing, with British alcohol taxes now the second highest in the EU on beer and wine, and the fourth highest on spirits.

UK taxes are now eight times higher than France, and 11 times higher than Germany and now outstrip those of traditional high-tax regimes in Scandinavia, with the sole exception of Finland, according to the association.

Commenting on the findings, Simmonds said: "When it comes to alcohol, we need a debate based on the hard facts. Alcohol consumption per head is 11% lower than it was in 2004. Tax rates have soared to unprecedented levels at a time when household budgets are stretched. Huge, 35% rises in beer taxes in the past three years have been deeply damaging to British brewers, who operate one of our most innovative and successful manufacturing industries.

"The number of those drinking above health guidelines has been falling for a number of years and industry is rightly investing in responsible drinking campaigns - yet some still demand ever increasing restrictions and taxes. It's time the debate caught up with the hard facts."

Other key facts about Britain's drinking to emerge in the new report included:

The average price of a British pub pint has broken the £3 barrier - partly due to huge tax increases.

The North East is the cheapest region for a beer, whereas London is almost 50% more expensive. The cheapest region for a glass of wine in a pub is the Midlands, whereas Wales is cheapest for spirits.

Off-trade (supermarket and shop) sales of beer now account for almost 50% of total sales.

BBPA sets out red tape gripes for pubs >>

Pub and nightclub groups warn against disco music fees hike >>

Brigid Simmonds appointed chair of Tourism Alliance >>

By Neil Gerrard

E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.

If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to jobs

Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with jobs

[Newsletters For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our e-mail newsletters.
The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking