Finland: Changed law could boost beer consumption

A small change in a Finnish law concerning the sale of alcohol could significantly lower the sales price of beer and therefore boost consumption. If passed by Finland’s parliament this spring, stores in the country will be allowed to sell drinks containing up to 5.5 percent alcohol as opposed to the 4.7 percent up to now. Which does not sound like a lot of difference may change buying habits as a research commissioned by the Finnish Grocery Trade Association suggests.

According to the report, alcohol consumption will go up by half a percent. However, the predictions of the National Institute of Health and Welfare show a rise of  6 percent should the reform go through.

Currently many Finns travel to neighboring Estonia to buy what is termed to be a strong beer and bring it back to Finland. But making this beer freely available in Finland will lower the price and therefore boost consumption. 57% of Finns support alcohol retail market deregulation.

So far drinks with a higher alcohol content are only sold through state alcohol monopoly retailer Alko in Finland. It is therefore most likely that sales of Alko will decrease. However, Hille Korhonen, CEO of Alko, hopes to stop the steady decline in sales from 113.5 million liters of alcoholic beverages per year in 2007 to about 94 million liters in 2015.

The company, which distributed 40 million in dividends to the state in 2015, plans to increase the number of alcoholic products in stock from 5,700 at the end of 2015 to 10,000 by 2020. Another push is expected to come from an online shop which delivers via the post products for corporate customers. Individuals still have to pick up the products from a local Alko store or another delivery point.

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