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UK: SWA "puzzled" over minimum pricing plans

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The chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association's council has said the industry is “puzzled” at the Scottish Government's efforts to enforce minimum pricing. 

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Speaking at the the group's centenary celebrations in Westminster last night, Ian Curle said producers could not understand why the measure was being introduced when there is a lack of evidence and it appears to be illegal. “Our industry has been puzzled,” said Curle, to an audience of parliamentarians, civil servants and industry representatives. 

He said it had not been proven that minimum pricing will cut alcohol harm and it is “not legally competent”.

Last month it emerged that the European Commission's general secretary has warned against the measure as it will be “disproportionate” and an obstacle to trade. The SWA has also launched a two-pronged legal challenge against minimum pricing, but a Judicial Review in Scotland has been delayed until the New Year

Curle, who is chief executive of the Edrington Group, also attacked the UK Government's alcohol duty escalator, pointing out that alcohol taxes had risen 37% since the measure was introduced in 2008. “Surely the duty escalator has reached its destination,” he said. 

Earlier, Curle said the Scotch whisky industry was “the key to an export led recovery” for the UK. Prospects for the industry are good, he said, with around GBP1.5bn due to be invested over the next five years. 

He also welcomed the news yesterday that new EU trade deals have been signed with Colomiba, Peru and Central America, allowing fairer market conditions for whisky and other spirits producers.

The Scotch Whisky Association was formed in October 1912, when it was known as the Wine & Spirit Brand Association. 


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