Supermarkets and drinks suppliers are joining forces to try to kill the government’s minimum pricing plans, The Grocer can reveal.
A new campaign spearheaded by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association is being backed by companies including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Diageo and SABMiller, who hope to galvanise public support against the proposals, which they claim will unfairly penalise responsible drinkers.
Under the banner Why Should Responsible Drinkers Pay More?, it is expected to produce heavy-hitting research, and will include a public petition against minimum pricing, while also calling on customers to tweet their local MP expressing their opposition. The WSTA has also secured significant backing for a marketing campaign involving radio and PR. .
The website, www.whyshouldwepaymore.co.uk, goes live on Tuesday and will feature a calculator showing the public how the proposals for a 45p per unit minimum would impact on their favourite drinks.
Minimum pricing would see 52% of prices in the off-trade rise overnight, with 71% of vodka, 62% of whisky and 38% of wine increasing in cost.
Retailers and suppliers are drawing up a catalogue of evidence against the plans, in response to the Home Office consultation, which closes on the 6 February. It will also try to torpedo the proposed ban on multibuy promotions.
As well as three major supermarkets as founding partners, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said “the fact we also have the support of one of the world’s biggest brewers in SABMiller is also hugely significant as it fears this policy could set a precedent that could have an impact across the world.”
The campaign will focus on how out of touch the plans are with the economic situation, the lack of research behind them and the impact on poorest families.
“If it were not for this issue being something that David Cameron has nailed his colours to the mast on, it could very well have been dropped already, such is the opposition within parliament,” said Beale. “We will be targeting MPs but the main aim is to get ordinary people on board and if we do that we feel there is a very strong chance of killing this.”
He also revealed he had to talk a string of major companies out of walking away from the government’s Responsibility Deal, which has included a pledge to slash a billion units of alcohol from the UK alcohol market by 2015, because of the government’s “schizophrenic” attitude to the drinks industry.