Chris Mercer

Diageo is in denial on pricing

By: Chris Mercer - 31 August 2010 15:24

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I am not a supporter of a Scotland-style minimum price on alcoholic drinks, but I find it hard to fathom why significant players in the industry continue to deny any link between price and consumption.

Diageo reiterated at the weekend that it sees no need for "price intervention". It said "there is no evidence globally that it is an effective measure in reducing alcohol-related harm". The World Health Organisation, backed by senior doctors everywhere, begs to differ.   

Diageo's denial is in danger of making the drinks industry look seriously out-dated. Surely, everyone in the drinks industry should be prepared to accept that pricing can play some part in reducing harmful consumption?

Diageo's position - and the same goes for those who share it - is a long way out of sync with mainstream thinking on alcohol policy. Of course, education and social factors play a huge role in drinking habits - and are much more difficult to address than price - but to deny any role for pricing is difficult.

The debate has moved on and price is going to be part of the solution to excess drinking, in the UK at least. The drinks industry should not let itself get left behind, but should play its part in finding a sensible way forward.

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