Off-trade

What’s MUP to you?

The new Minimum Unit Pricing regulations introduced by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act come into force next January. Here, Lorraine Compton of Compton Solicitors summarises the new regulations and how they'll impact alcohol pricing and offers.
In order to prepare for January 2022 retailers should review their current alcohol pricing structure and prepare to make the necessary changes on the shop floor and on their EPOS systems.

In order to prepare for January 2022 retailers should review their current alcohol pricing structure and prepare to make the necessary changes on the shop floor and on their EPOS systems.

This latest provision comes as the third major change for the retail industry following the introduction of structural separation in November 2020 and the changes to alcohol promotions and loyalty schemes at the beginning of this year.

 

What impact will MUP have on retailers?

Retailers need to be careful that they’ve accurately calculated the MUP for each alcohol product sold. Many supermarkets sell specialised beers and ciders which may have different volumes to the standard 500ml can or 330ml bottles.

 

What impact will MUP have on hotels, pubs and restaurants?

Although the section applies to on-licences, the majority of hotels, pubs and restaurants already sell spirits, wine and beer at prices above the proposed MUP and for those premises their prices will remain largely unaffected. However, they should be careful when carrying out any off-sales to ensure the transaction is above the MUP.

 

Does MUP apply to wholesale sales?

MUP does not apply to wholesale sales.

As a result, the holder of a Wholesale Spirit, Beer or wine Licence will be able to sell alcohol below the minimum set price provided the sale is in wholesale quantities.

A wholesale spirit, beer or wine licence allows you to sell in the following quantities:

* A Spirit Wholesale Dealer’s Licence allows you to sell not less than 9.092 litres

* A Wine Wholesale Dealer’s Licence allows you to sell not less than 9.092 litres.

* A Beer Wholesale Dealer’s Licence allows you to sell both beer and cider in quantities not less than 20.457 litres.

 

However, any wholesalers who also hold retail off-licences and carry out sales in retail quantities must ensure those transactions do not fall below the permitted MUP.

 

Does MUP apply to duty free?

No, MUP does not apply to alcohol sold in duty-free so travellers abroad will be inclined to stock-up on alcohol products.

 

Is Northern Ireland also implementing MUP?

Originally, there was hope that MUP would be introduced in both NI and RoI to prevent market distortions in either jurisdiction, but this has not been achieved.

It’s understood that MUP will not take effect in NI until at least 2023.

Retailers are concerned that the differences in prices across the border will impact trade not only for alcohol off-sales but for retailing as a whole.

 

What are the penalties for breaching MUP provisions?

A person who sells alcohol or promotes the sale of alcohol at a price that’s below the minimum price for that product shall be guilty of an offence punishable on conviction to a fine of up to €250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.

It may be a defence under the Act for those facing prosecution to claim that they have made ‘all reasonable efforts to ensure compliance’ to comply with the provisions of the Act. Staff should be fully trained in relation to the MUP to ensure that all alcohol for sale meets the threshold and to avoid any oversights relating to offers etc.

 

What should Retailers do next?

In order to prepare for January 2022 retailers should review their current alcohol pricing structure and prepare to make the necessary changes on the shop floor and on their EPOS systems.

 

Calculating MUP

The minimum price is calculated using the following formula:

A x B = C

where

A is the minimum price per gram of alcohol

B is the quantity in grams of alcohol contained in the alcohol product and

C is the minimum price of the alcohol product expressed in €uro and cent.

The below chart gives an example of the floor price for a range of alcohol products.

 

For more information contact Lorraine Compton or Fiona Tonge.

Lorraine Compton: 086 – 253 4651 or

lorraine.compton@comptonsolicitors.ie

Fiona Tonge: 089 – 471 4128 or

fiona.tonge@comptonsolicitors.ie.

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