Pia Mäkelä, a research professor at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), reminds that it is still premature to draw any conclusions on the effects of the newly adopted alcohol laws based on consumption statistics from the first three months of the year.
“The taxes were raised at the turn of the year, and so there may have been some stocking up in December, which in turn may have decreased early-year sales in the statistics,” she says to Uusi Suomi.
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) on Thursday published the first set of alcohol consumption statistics following the adoption of the new alcohol laws on 1 January 2018. The statistics indicate that the volume of alcohol sales fell by 0.9 per cent year-on-year but also that, when converted to litres of absolute alcohol, the sales crept up by 0.7 per cent.
The statistics have been interpreted as confirmation that the new alcohol laws have driven alcohol consumption towards stronger beverages. They have also provoked questions about concerns that de-regulating the sales of alcoholic beverages would result in a considerable up-tick in alcohol consumption: THL, for example, initially predicted that the de-regulation would result in a six per cent increase in consumption.
Mäkelä dashed cold water on efforts to evaluate the effects of the alcohol law reform already in April. She pointed out in her blog that the introduction of stronger alcoholic beverages to the shelves of grocery shops has not resulted in the 40 per cent drop in their prices that was forecast by the retail sector.
“Retailers have said in interviews throughout the spring that the prices will change and settle probably in the summer,” she reminded.
The statistics also show that the sales of long drinks surged by 48 per cent year-on-year between January and March. Mäkelä estimated that the substantial increase may be a result of the fact that long drinks have been perhaps the most marketed and talked-about alcoholic beverage during the reform process.
“We don’t know yet if the same sales promotion efforts will be expanded to other product categories,” she reminded.
The de-regulation, she underscored, will begin to have an impact on alcohol consumption gradually. The government, for example, has proposed that the effects be evaluated three years after the implementation.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi