Typical: we learn of one of the biggest industry breakthroughs in cutting the amount of alcohol the nation knocks back through a mistake in the numbers. Two years late. If we weren’t talking about the government’s botched Responsibility Deal, I’d say I was surprised.
‘News’ that the industry has smashed its pledge to remove 1 billion units of alcohol from the shelves between 2011 and the end of 2015, two years earlier than planned, was revealed on Friday. Trouble is, this was actually achieved at the end of 2012, but because the government got its maths wrong, they didn’t get to tell anyone about it.
Talk about burying good news. In April, an interim report announced the removal of 253 million units from shelves between 2011 and 2012. Now, that feat was certainly nothing to be sniffed at, but in fact the numbers were 858 million units off, meaning that 1.1bn units had actually been removed from the market. The target had already been hit.
How did they manage such a royal cock up? A change to HMRC beer volume data meant the government had miscalculated the baseline ABV for beer, which should have been 4.42%, not 4.21%. This means that as beer volumes fell in the supermarkets, more units were exiting the market than they thought.
We’ve now learnt that a further 235 million units were removed from the market between 2012 and 2013. That’s if they’ve managed to get their numbers right this time around. Here’s hoping…