The WSTA has hit out at UK plans to further regulate the alcohol industry

The WSTA has hit out at UK plans to further regulate the alcohol industry

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has warned against further regulatory pressure on the industry after its latest survey showed UK off-trade volumes fell this year.

Off-trade sales of wine declined by 2% in volume and spirits declined by 3% over the past 12 months, according to the WSTA Market Report, released today (5 December). Some sectors bucked the overall decline, with on-trade cider and off-trade sparkling wine volumes up by 5%.

However, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “While it is encouraging to see category growth in some areas, market conditions suggest that it remains a challenging time for both the industry and consumers.

“Given these challenging economic conditions the Government should think carefully before adding further pressure on the trade, as continuing with the duty escalator and the introduction of minimum unit pricing would do.”

The escalator, which has been place since March 2008, means UK alcohol duties are raised 2% above inflation each year until 2014, while late last month the UK Home Office launched a consultation on plans to set a minimum alcohol price of GBP0.45 per unit.

Beale said the WSTA survey showed consumers “are continuing to tighten their belts and shop around for the best value in these tough economic times”.

In the past 12 weeks off-trade sales of Champagne were down by 9%, but up 13% in the on-trade, the survey showed. On-trade sales of RTDs increased by 15% in volume in the past twelve weeks and were up by 3% in the twelve months to November, the survey said.