Almost two-thirds of alcohol sold was in the lowest price bracket since minimum unit pricing

The proportion of alcoholic drinks costing between 50p and 64.9p per unit more than doubled after minimum unit pricing (MUP) was imposed in Scotland, a new study has found.

Analysis by Public Health Scotland found almost two-thirds (65.3%) of alcohol sold from shops was in the lowest-possible price bracket above the 50p minimum in the year after Scotland’s MUP policy was introduced.

It had risen from 31.9% in the 12 months before minimum pricing came into effect in May 2018, and almost twice the 33.6% recorded in England and Wales during the first year of the policy north of the border.

The biggest changes were for lower cost drinks such as beer, spirits, cider and perry, while MUP had a “limited effect” on price distribution above 65p per unit, with increases in those price bracket similar to previous years.

The 50p to 54.9p per unit band, immediately above the minimum cost, accounted for 39.0% of the total post-implementation, almost triple that compared to the two prior years (15.1% and 13.9% respectively), according to the study.

Dr Karl Ferguson, public health intelligence adviser at Public Health Scotland, said: “The price distribution of off-trade alcohol in Scotland in the year following the introduction of minimum unit pricing reflected the 50 pence per unit price floor, and this was markedly different to the price distribution seen both in Scotland pre-MUP, and in England and Wales.

“Not all drink categories were affected in the same way.

“Those categories with a greater proportion sold in price bands beneath the 50p per unit price floor before MUP – such as beer, cider, spirits and perry – saw a considerable shift towards the 50 to 64.9p per unit price range.

“However, the price distribution of drink categories with a greater proportion already sold above the price floor – including wine, fortified wines and ready to drink beverages – was not noticeably affected by the introduction of MUP”.

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