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Sale of beer dips as prices rise

Beer guzzlers in Delhi are finding it hard to gulp down the news of rise in prices of their favourite drink. Atul Mathur reports.
Hindustan Times | By Atul Mathur, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 25, 2011 01:36 AM IST

Beer guzzlers in Delhi are finding it hard to gulp down the news of rise in prices of their favourite drink. In little more than nine months — April 1, 2010 to January 18, 2011 — Delhiites consumed 45 .8 lakh crates (650 ml, 12 bottles), which is 35 lakh crates less than 2009-2010 during the same period.

However, numbers reveal that cheaper brands of whisky — priced at up to R500 per bottle — have sold more this year as compared to 2009-2010. Sale of cheaper brands of whisky increased from 49.58 lakh crates in 2009-2010 to 52.99 lakh crates in 2010-2011. Senior excise department officials attribute the change to revision of beer prices in the current financial year.

The excise department revised the prices of beer twice last year — once in May 2010 and then in July 2010. Most brands of beer — both canned and bottled — have registered an increase of R15 to R30 per piece.

“Some brands of strong beer are priced as much as nip (185 ml) of cheaper brand of whisky. A large number of people who consume stronger beer for a kick have switched over to whisky and it reflects in sales figures,” an excise official said.

As per excise department figures, the sale of beer has come down by more than 14% in the current financial year. While the share of beer in total sale of liquor in 2009-2010 was 55.2%, its share in the current year has only been 40.95%.

While the sale of lager beer has come down by 5.6% in 2010-2011, strong beer, which has more alcohol content and is costlier, too, has become almost half from 191.18% in 2009-2010 to 9.9% in 2010-2011.

Interestingly, the increase in retail prices of beer has not affected its sale in restaurants and pubs. While beer registered a growth of 3% in 2010-2011 over last year, there has been negligible change in sale figures of all brands of Indian made as well as foreign brands of whisky.

The decline in sale has only been witnessed at about 275 government-run liquor vends and 90-odd private liquor shops. Senior excise department officials said the revision of beer prices has only filled their coffers. “Our revenue has shown an upward trend. It has shown a growth of about 24% this year,” an excise official said.

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