Scotland to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol

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22 Nov 2017 --- Scotland's minimum pricing for alcohol is due to come into force next May as the government aims to cut the sale of cheap booze which is fuelling health problems and contributing to the levels of alcohol-related deaths in the country. 

The Scottish health secretary, Shona Robison, says the fixed level of £0.50 (US$0.66) a unit will cut hospital admissions by more than 8,000 in the first five year period. 

A consultation paper detailing the minimum unit pricing (MUP) is expected next week as the proposed £0.50 is still subject to consultation.

However, the move will lead to an increase in the price of some of the strongest alcohol on sale in Scotland. 

And there are calls for other parts of the UK to follow Scotland’s lead and introduce a similar MUP. 

For example, the MUP of £0.50 would force up the average price of a 70cl bottle of whisky to £14 (US$18.55), while the cost of super strength cider (7.5 percent ABV) would be forced up to a minimum of £3.75 (US$4.97) per liter. 

Meanwhile, there are also other focuses on alcohol in the UK as major supermarket Tesco is introducing a virtually alcohol-free wine. 

Tesco launch virtually alcohol-free wine, tapping into “lighter enjoyment” trends
Brits create record demand for low alcohol wines with sales at Tesco more than doubling in the last year.

Sales of low-alcohol wine have doubled at UK Tesco stores as consumers and the retailer believes demand will increase further and so has created a range that is virtually indistinguishable in taste from its alcoholic counterparts.

The range includes five customer favorites – a Cabernet Tempranillo, a Grenacha-Rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc – the latter two in both still and sparkling varieties.

According to Tesco, the taste improvement comes from a new innovative spinning cone technique that gently removes the alcohol without sacrificing the aroma, quality and flavor profile of the wine.

Until now most non-alcoholic wines have been fermented until they reach the point where they are about to turn alcoholic so the liquid never actually becomes wine.

Another popular method involves removing the alcohol but replacing it with a number of sugars and artificial flavors to bring back the flavors lost through the process.

The range was driven by a growing demand for low alcohol, high-quality alternatives as consumer preferences continue to shift to include a healthier approach to diet. 

Lighter enjoyment trends
This is backed up by the recent release of Innova Market Insights top trends for 2018 which includes “Lighter Enjoyment”. Lightness in alcohol content, sweetness, flavor and texture, as well as portion size, is gaining momentum in food and beverages as consumers continue to look for ways to eat and drink more healthily and light, yet still fully enjoy what they love.

Light foods & beverages are no longer the reserve of the dieter, as moderation is catalyzed by millennials prioritizing high-quality and tasty food and beverages over excessive alcohol consumption. At the same time, big brands have adapted their marketing of light drinks towards the more mainstream consumer with the focus being on enjoyment without having to worry about the consequences. This has resulted in an increase in drinks with a low alcohol content. 

By targeting late millennials and young professionals, there has been a strong increase in the prevalence of low alcoholic drinks.

“Consumption of alcohol in the UK down is down by 18 percent over the last decade and we're seeing more customers looking for a quality wine drinking experience without the alcohol,” says Tesco wine expert Alexandra Runciman, who developed the range.

“In recent years we've seen improvements in the quality and range of low and no alcohol ciders and beers which have put the wine equivalent firmly in the shade. This is the first wine range of its kind sold by a supermarket which offers customers a real comparable alternative to popular varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc, without any compromise on taste.”

The wines, which are nearly alcohol-free – less than 0.5 percent – have been developed in partnership with leading international wine producers Felix Solis, and will be available in over 700 stores across the country and online and will be priced from £3 (US$3.97).

In March 2017, Tesco became the first supermarket to bring together its entire range of alcohol-free, or less than 0.5 percent ABV beers, wines and spirits in one place in stores across the UK.

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