Constellation has warned that the recent hike in duty on wine in the UK could mark the end of the GBP3.99 (US$8.12) a bottle price point in the country.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, yesterday (12 March) announced that the tax on a bottle of wine in the UK will rise from Sunday by GBP0.14 per bottle.

"Constellation will not absorb the Treasury's duty increase, … which leaves us with no option other than to pass this through in full," said Constellation Europe's senior vice president for sales, Peter Spencer. "This may lead to a departure from the GBP0.49 and GBP0.99 price point.

"The duty increase of approximately 10% is 6% higher than the rate of inflation and means that UK consumers will now be paying more for a bottle of wine," he continued.

"I believe this duty hike will mean prices across the wine category will rise substantially and that it will herald the end of wine at the GBP3.99 price point, as it is simply unlikely that any wine producer can sustainably supply wine at this price."

The Budget, which also increased the duty on beer, cider and spirits in the UK, has been widely criticised by the drinks industry. Diageo and InBev both called the announcement "disappointing" yesterday.