Irish Alcoholic Drinks Cost More after Minimum Price Introduced

The price of wine sold in Ireland has risen.

© Shutterstock

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The price of wine sold in Ireland has risen.

© Shutterstock

A new alcohol law introduced in Ireland on 4 January has sparked controversy as it has seen the retail price of a standard bottle of wine rise to €7.40/£6.20. With this measure, Ireland has joined countries like Scotland and Wales, the Russian Federation and Canada, to have minimum price controls on alcohol.

Wine, beer & spirits become more expensive

The new rules set a minimum price of 10 euro cents per gram of alcohol in drinks sold in wine shops, supermarkets and other outlets. The price will depend on the alcoholic strength of the wine.

According to the Irish Examiner, an 11% wine in a standard 750ml bottle, for example, will need to cost at least €6.50. A stronger 13.5% wine at least €7.89 and a one litre bottle of a spirit containing 40% alcohol, will cost €31.56.

Beer prices have also risen with retailers finding creative ways to try to entice customers since the law came in. The Independent reported Sam’s Gala in Dunmanway, Cork, is offering customers a credit note for the value of a €47 "slab" of beer (24 cans) when they buy €30 of plastic glasses.

Minimising alcohol consumption

The Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly justified the move, saying that it would "reduce serious illness and deaths from alcohol consumption". In his statement, he also emphasised that the introduction of a minimum price in Scotland, had "worked".

Scotland became the first country in the world in May 2018 to bring in minimum unit pricing for alcohol, which was set at 50 pence per unit. It aimed to target cheap, high-strength products and was credited for leading to a fall in sales although the BBC reported in 2020 that the drop in demand seemed to have stalled.

Some Irish retailers fear many buyers will take their custom to Northern Ireland, where there is is no such regulation. Ireland already pays the highest rate of excise duty in the EU: €3.19 per standard bottle of wine and twice that amount for sparkling wine.

Ireland in sixth place for alcohol consumption

According to Irish statistics, alcohol consumption in the Republic of Ireland in 2020 was just over ten litres of pure alcohol per person, a decrease of 6.6 per cent compared to the previous year. This fall was mainly a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. The World Health Organisation (WHO), however, puts the average Irish per capita consumption for 2019 at more than twelve litres, which puts the country in sixth place worldwide.

Alcohol consumption: Top 10 countries
(ranked by litres of pure alcohol per capita, 2019, WHO)

  1. Czech Republic - 14.26
  2. Latvia - 13.19
  3. Moldova - 12.85
  4. Germany - 12.79
  5. Lithuania - 12.78
  6. Ireland - 12.75
  7. Spain - 12.67
  8. Uganda - 12.48
  9. Bulgaria - 12.46
  10. Luxembourg - 12.45

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