The big news here in the UK last week came with the Budget, in which the Government once again raised taxes on alcoholic drinks, with duty up by 7% in real terms as of today (28 March).
Naturally, the drinks sector here has vented its spleen on the issue. The duty situation is starting to look a bit ridiculous in the UK, when one considers that half the price of an average bottle of wine and 75% of the price for an average bottle of spirits now goes to the Treasury's coffers.
This will do nothing for innovation in the drinks sector and is a blunt tool in the battle against the dreaded binge drinking 'epidemic'. Our industry needs to make consumers aware of how much they are paying to the Government to enjoy a bottle of wine of an evening.
Ministers, meanwhile, should be clear about their intentions. The UK chancellor raised duty, but did not see fit to tell anyone why. Is this for the good of public health or to boost the Government's revenue? It may not help either way, but consumers deserve to know the reasoning behind it.
Also, on just-drinks last week...
Regular soft drinks columnist Ray Rowlands took a look at Australia's soft drinks & water companies, and concluded that ownership is anything but Australian. Pete Brown also returned last week, to give us his thoughts on what looks like another beer gold-rush in China.
Meanwhile, I thought I'd do my best to look clever by offering my takes on speculation linking Diageo with yet another acquisition – this time for Jose Cuervo – and, as I too doest venture south, the future for Coca-Cola Amatil and SABMiller's Australian joint venture, Pacific Beverages.
Until next time...