UK: Molson Coors backs minimum pricing

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Molson Coors is in favour of setting minimum prices on alcoholic drinks as a way of cutting excess consumption, the company's UK marketing director has told Parliament's Health Select Committee.

Molson, which owns Carling and the licence to Grolsch beer in the UK, backs a form of minimum pricing "in principle", marketing head Simon Davies told MPs on the Committee last week, according to a transcipt of the meeting.

Davies said: "In principle Molson Coors would support further investigation of minimum pricing; we believe that it may form part of a solution. As we stand at the moment we do not have a developed view on what that minimum pricing should be and indeed exactly where it should be applied."

He said that Molson's experience in its native Canada, where some states already use minimum pricing, is that "there appears to be less alcohol abuse than there is in other markets and we are drawing a correlation".

Davies' comments indicate a growing divide in the alcoholic drinks industry over the issue of minimum pricing, which is set to form part of legislative proposals to tackle alcohol abuse in Scotland.

UK retail giant Tesco has made it known that it will not oppose minimum pricing, if proposed by authorities. 

However, others remain strongly opposed to the idea. Andy Fennell, marketing chief at Diageo, told the Health Select Committee last week that the drinks giant is against fixing a base price on drinks.

"We do not support it simply because we think that we should focus on the mis-users and those vulnerable to misuse and we have not yet seen any evidence to suggest that minimum pricing will tackle the issue at hand," he said.

Fennell added that the commercial impact of minimum pricing on Diageo "would probably be neutral", due to the firm's premium market focus.

Deborah Carter, marketing director at Beverage Brands, which owns WKD, also said that minimum pricing would be unlikely to affect business, but she added that, on its own, "we do not feel it would be an appropriate step forward".

Minimum pricing was a major subject for debate at the recent Westminster Food & Nutrition Keynote seminar on alcohol, attended by just-drinks.


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