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Price hikes hit wine sales

Published:  18 January, 2007

On one level you might view the Scottish Government as brave. After all, with consumers facing spiralling costs for fuel and food, it's a bold politician who suggests voters should pay more for their weekly shop, which is effectively what Scottish ministers told their electorate last week.

The timing of the fall is poignant. It comes just weeks after big rises in excise duty were announced in the Budget. It comes too amid mounting evidence of rampant food- and fuel-price inflation. The credit-crunch is really biting.

The WSTA warned in its Budget submission that average prices for wine were set to climb significantly without an additional tax hit. Rising costs in energy, raw materials and transportation would see to that. The 14p-a-bottle tax hike by the Chancellor compounded that upward pressure on prices and, as someone who likes the odd bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, I can tell you my wallet has started feeling the difference. The latest sales figures suggest I am not the only one.

Persuading committed wine consumers to spend more on a bottle of wine is different to imposing new government taxes for all consumers. Upward pressure on prices at a time when consumers are feeling the pinch threatens to hurt us all. Biased as I am, I cannot pretend wine is one of life's essentials. Consumers do have a choice and wine doesn't heat the water in our homes.

Which is why we must persuade the Scottish government to rethink some of its proposals. They are the last things consumers need and, as we may be discovering, customers hardly need encouragement to stop buying our product.

Jeremy Beadles is chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association