A report published today by Public Health Scotland indicates that the economic performance of the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland has not been significantly impacted by the introduction of Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The industry performance was measured using five key metrics, and while they have shown minimal impacts, this doesn’t mean that MUP has had no effect at all on the industry.

The performance of the industry was measured against: the number of firms, employment, turnover, output value and Gross Value Added (GVA). The research, commissioned by Public Health Scotland as part of a wide-ranging portfolio of evaluation work on MUP, was carried out by Frontier Economics.

The research suggests that industry performance post-MUP was characterised by lower volumes of sales but higher prices. This is consistent with other studies which suggest the value of spending on alcoholic drinks in the off-trade rose more quickly in Scotland post-MUP than in England and Wales.

Interviews carried out across the industry found that the impacts of MUP on consumer and producer responses were perceived to ‘play out’ quickly. Almost all case studies felt that the major changes had already taken place by the first half of 2019, and that industry had ‘moved on’ since then with MUP largely not a day-to-day concern.          

While some economic trends changed post MUP there was no compelling evidence that these were caused by MUP.

Andrew Leicester, Associate Director at Frontier Economics and lead researcher said:

“Our analysis of detailed quantitative data broken down by country and sub-sector of the alcoholic drinks industry does not find compelling evidence of observable impacts of MUP on industry performance in the years immediately following its introduction. Case study interviews from across different parts of the industry largely validate this view, recognising that MUP clearly did affect the behaviour of producers and retailers to adapt rapidly to new limits on pricing but not in ways that appear to have significantly affected overall industry performance in the medium-run”.

Neil Craig, Interim Head of Evaluation at Public Health Scotland said:

“We welcome the publication of this study, which is one of a portfolio of studies looking at the impact of MUP in Scotland. The report provides important evidence on how MUP has affected the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland. We will bring this together with the other published evidence on the impact of MUP on a range of different outcomes, including hospitalisations and deaths. This will be published in a final, overarching report to be published later this year.”

View the report Minimum unit pricing: Impacts on the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland.  

Last updated: 31 January 2023