Government to tackle NoLo beer prices?

The cost of non-alcoholic beers hit the headlines again recently when the Transport Minister Shane Ross told the Sunday Independent that he’d move to reduce “the extortionate cost” of non-alcoholic beer as part of his road safety campaign.

There is a growing demand for alcohol-free beers and it’s understood that his Independent Alliance of TDs will exert pressure on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to examine ways of reducing the cost of alcohol-free beer ahead of the next budget, according to the Sunday Independent.

“On the surface it beggars belief that non-alcoholic drink is more expensive than equivalent alcoholic products,” he told the newspaper, “We should be incentivising customers who want to enjoy a few alcohol-free beers. An initiative along these lines has the potential to be a further part of the campaign against drink-driving.”

Fianna Fail Spokesman on Finance Michael McGrath believed that as the 54 cent excise duty per pint does not apply to NoLo Alcohol Beers, this saving should be passed on to consumers.

“We need to know why consumers here are charged such high prices for non-alcoholic drinks,” he said.

However the President of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Padraic McGann explained, “As publicans we buy from suppliers and pay VAT. The perception – like in many things – is that the publican has the power to reduce the price on this but the publican is just at the end of the chain so that by the time the product reaches the publican from the wholesaler there’s no mechanism for publicans to reduce the price. However, scope does exist back at the producer level.

“It’s not as simple as the publican reducing the price of non-alcoholic beers. There’s a whole production process to be taken into account so it’s a bit simplistic for the Minister to say it ‘beggars belief’. It’s more complicated than that. The prices charged by publicans for non-alcoholic beers generally reflect the prices charged to them by their suppliers.”

A spokesperson for Heineken Ireland told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Pricing in any pub/hotel is the responsibility of the owner and as such prices can vary from venue to venue.  Heineken Ireland recommends to our customers that there is a lower price for Heineken 0.0% compared to Heineken but it’s at the discretion of the pub/hotel to set the price. As you will know from your own publication, Heineken 0.0% has a RRP of €4.00”.

Since the launch of Heineken 0.0%, the size of the No Alcohol beer category has doubled.

Heineken 0.0% is double brewed and after the alcohol is removed, it’s blended with natural flavours. 


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