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Legal reform boosts alcopop and beer sales, report finds

Alcopop and beer sales increased last year, owing to new laws that allow grocery and convenience stores to sell the beverages.

Sales of alcopops and beer rose in 2018 owing to new alcohol laws. Image: Tero Valtanen / Yle

Sales of drinks such as alcopops (pre-mixed alcoholic beverages) and beer containing 5.5 percent or less alcohol grew five-fold in 2018 over 2017 owing to the new alcohol laws that took effect at the start of last year and allows grocery and convenience shops to sell them.

The findings come from an advance report commissioned by Finnish Grocery Trade Association and carried out by market survey firm Taloustutkimus that was released on Thursday.

The report says that alcopop sales increased five-fold, with an additional 26 million litres sold in 2018 over the previous year. Stong beer (so-called class IV) sales also grew, with 23 million more litres sold in 2018 than in 2017.

Taxation favours alcopops

The increased alcohol tax on alcopops, a mixture of gin and soft drink, was only five percent last year over 2017, while for beer it rose over ten percent in 2018.

Before the legal reforms took effect last year, only the state-owned alcohol monopoly Alko was allowed to sell the alcoholic mixture. The report claims that these two factors helped to boost sales.

Medium strength beer retained its position as Finland's most-sold light alcoholic beverage, with 315 million litres sold last year. Meanwhile, cider sales decreased seven percent compared to 2017.

The Ministry of Finance estimates that the alcohol tax yielded an increase of 150 million euros in 2018 compared to 2017.

Heatwave boosted soda sales

According to the advance report, sales of alcohol drinks increased by more than 15 percent last year during the warmer-than-usual months of May, July and August 2018, compared to the same months in 2017.

The warm weather also saw an increase in bottled water and soda sales. During the cooler month of June 2018, alcohol sales fell by four percent compared to the previous year.

State alcohol monopoly Alko recently reported that sales of strong beers and alcopops had tumbled as consumers turned elsewhere to purchase these items.