The Buckfast boom
Scots drink extra 3,600 bottles a day after minimum pricing
SALES of Buckfast have soared in the wake of the SNP’s crackdown on cheap alcohol, with many heavy-drinking Scots switching to the potent tonic wine.
Since the Scottish Government introduced minimum unit pricing (MUP) in early May, sales of Buckfast have grown by £5.3 million to £36.5 million – equivalent to an extra 3,630 bottles a day of the 15 per cent drink made at Buckfast Abbey in Devon.
Despite the SNP ban on selling alcohol for less than 50p a unit, sales analysis commissioned by cider maker Aston Manor shows Scots spent 11 per cent more on drink, and consumed 4 per cent more, than in the corresponding 24 weeks of last year.
Last month The Scottish Mail on Sunday reported that in the first three months of MUP, Scots drank an additional 1.8million litres of alcoholic beverages, equivalent to more than two million bottles of wine.
While sales of some drinks such as cheap white cider fell, other forms benefited – including Buckfast.
Miles Briggs, Scots Tory health spokesman, said: ‘This is the very reason the Scottish Conservatives insisted on a sunset clause being inserted as part of this policy. This means that should this worrying pattern continue, the Scottish parliament will be able to scrap minimum pricing and investigate other ways of tackling Scotland’s damaging relationship with alcohol. ‘We warned minimum unit pricing could result in the unintended consequence of consumer behaviour change, with individuals moving from ciders to cheaper products. ‘Buckfast, for example, is no more expensive than it was prior to the unit price legislation.’ In 2015 the Scottish Prison Service found more than 43 per cent of inmates had drunk Buckfast before their last offence. Since 2014, the wine has been linked to more than 6,500 cases of antisocial behaviour and violence.
Meanwhile high-strength cider Frosty Jack’s, made by Aston Manor, has suffered a 70 per drop in sales.
An Aston Manor spokesman said: ‘We shared with the Scottish Government that moderate drinkers would be disproportionately affected, those on low incomes would be penalised and many consumers would shift consumption. The evidence after six months is that all three are happening.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Our minimum unit pricing policy is a worldleading initiative and early indications suggest a 70 per cent reduction in sales of one brand of “industrial strength” cheap cider.’
A spokesman for J Chandler & Co, maker of Buckfast, said: ‘Our sales have been increasing over the last two to three years, but we can’t attribute that to MUP.’