News that the illicit trade in beer has almost doubled in the past year doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The rise of the contraband market has long gone hand-in-hand with a tough economy and wholesalers have for years warned of the millions of sales lost to criminals.
The surprising finding in HMRC’s latest figures is that tobacco duty fraud has actually come down.
Customs has put a lot of effort into cracking down on illicit fags, working in conjunction with the tobacco industry, which invests huge sums to tackle the problem across the globe. However, when it comes to beer, the situation is not as clear and there is a great division over what needs to be done. Wholesalers are reiterating their calls for duty stamps on beer, but those who make it and those who sell it are not singing from the same hymn sheet.
Duty stamps, which wholesalers want while suppliers do not, may or may not prove to be the holy grail. But one thing’s for certain this problem cannot be tackled properly without consistency of thinking and actions between government, wholesalers and suppliers.