The Finnish Commerce Federation reveals that its long-term objective is to abolish the retail monopoly of Alko, the state-owned importer, producer and retailer of alcoholic beverages.
“Our objective is to see the monopoly break down, to allow alcohol sales in all grocery shops. But that’s probably a slightly longer-term objective. Because it’s a longer-term objective, we of course think we should first bring […] wines to grocery shops and take it from there,” Juhani Pekkala, the CEO of the Finnish Commerce Federation, tells Uusi Suomi.
He points out that the newly adopted alcohol act has had its desired impact: alcohol consumption and imports have continued to decrease, while tax revenues from alcohol sales have increased.
“It’s now clear that the new alcohol act is working well,” says Pekkala.
“Now is clearly a good time to weigh up whether we can continue on this path and de-regulate the retail sales of alcohol. That has to be examined from both an economic and public health perspective, as well as from the customers’ perspective,” he adds.
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) reported earlier this autumn that the sales of alcohol fell by 0.7 per cent year-on-year between January and June.
Pia Mäkelä, a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), has reminded that the effects of the legislative reform cannot be evaluated until several years after implementation.
Pekkala also underscores that the retail sales of alcoholic beverages would continue to be regulated to a certain extent even if stronger alcoholic beverages were introduced to the shelves of grocery shops.
The Finnish alcohol act was adopted in full on 1 March 2018. The act, for example, allows grocery shops to retail beers and canned cocktails with an alcohol content not exceeding 5.5 per cent.
It has also created tensions between two of the ruling parties: the Centre and National Coalition.
“What’s noticeable is that the issue has divided the parties: there are supporters and opponents in every party. It isn’t necessarily an issue that follows party lines but rather the conservative-liberal axis,” views Pekkala.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi