The World Cup is here, and supermarkets have geared up for the competition by slashing their prices. Three of the UK’s biggest supermarkets have been found to sell beer at such low-prices that it is cheaper than some mineral water.
Supermarkets are also selling own-label cider at such low costs a man can breach his recommended daily alcohol limit for £1 and a woman for 75p. (The Cost of Cheap Alcohol: Channel 4 Dispatches, 8pm, Monday 30th June)
A Dispatches investigation into cheap alcohol found the cheapest lager was being sold by Tesco, which is selling multipacks of Fosters, Carlsberg and Carling for the equivalent of 69p a pint. Tesco’s 750ml bottle of Perrier was on sale at 73p a pint – as of noon 23rd June.
Recent government figures said alcohol related harm is costing the country more than £21bn a year through crime, accidents and disease.
Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Garry Sherwan, told the programme: “I would encourage supermarkets to think very closely about how we balance their commitment and their ability to trade freely with an understanding that alcohol, particularly cheap, strong alcohol… is misused in this country leads to significant levels of disorder and violence.”
Dr Nick Sheron, one of the countries’ leading hepatologists said: “People’s personalities haven’t changed in the last 30 years, you know, human nature hasn’t changed, what’s changed is their environment. What’s changed is that they’re having cheap booze pushed at them by retailers… and their priority is to increase their profitability.”
Two weeks before the World Cup, the government brought in a scheme aimed at curbing cheap alcohol before the finals in Rio. The new scheme which bans alcohol being sold below cost demands retailers use a complex formula based on alcohol duty and VAT to work out a floor price. It means that a typical can of 4% lager can’t be sold for less than 40p, a bottle of wine for under £2.24 or a standard bottle of vodka for less than £8.87. However campaigners argue that this measure is ineffective as hardly any drinks are sold below this price.
An analysis by Dispatches of thousands of drink prices in supermarkets over the past 5 years has found not one drink being sold below the floor prices brought in by the new scheme.
The British Retail Consortium which represents all the major supermarkets told us: “price is clearly not the solution.. A change in lifestyles… has led to increased demand for alcohol sold in supermarkets. People buy in bulk to take advantage of value and share… or consume over a long period. We recognise there is still a way to go but the efforts of retailers working with Government to give clear health information [and] reinforce health messages… are having an effect and we are committed to continue to build on these”.
The Cost of Cheap Alcohol: Channel 4 Dispatches airs tonight Monday 30 June at 8:00pm on Channel 4.