Rise in 'home drinking' continues

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Related tags: Alcohol consumption, European union, Alcoholic beverage, United kingdom

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Britain's alcohol consumption fell last year for the first time since 1998 but 'home drinking' continued to rise.

Britain's alcohol consumption fell last year for the first time since 1998, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

Worryingly for pubs the BBPA says the trend for off-sales and home drinking also continues to rise.

The trade body has just published its Statistical Handbook 2006 - an industry bible of facts and figures.

The latest edition says UK alcohol consumption per head dipped by 1.6% last year - the first time there has been a fall in annual consumption in six years

It also found beer remains Britain's favourite alcoholic drink, accounting for 43% of the market.

Steady shift​The steady shift away from 'on-trade' sales has continued, with 41 % of Britain's beer now bought in shops and supermarkets.

In 2000, the figure was 33% and in 1998, 30%.

It is the increase in drink bought for consumption at home that tells the real story of the nation's changing drinking habits​Mark Hastings, director of communications at BBPA.

Mark Hastings, director of communications at BBPA, said: "Our drinking patterns are certainly changing, though the numbers show a fall in total consumption on the previous year, it is the increase in drink bought for consumption at home that tells the real story of the nation's changing drinking habits."

The handbook also compares drinking across Europe and says the UK Government continues to enjoy "very healthy tax"​ revenues from the alcohol sector, with income from excise duties and VAT reaching nearly £14 billion in 2005/2006.

Tax​Taxes on Britain's beer alone raised £6 billion.

On a 'pence-per-pint' basis across the European Union, UK beer is out-taxed only in Finland and Ireland, and is over three times the EU average.

Even in Sweden, duty rates do not exceed those in the UK.

On the final price of a typical British pint, taxes account for 31%.

Hastings said: "With the Handbook highlighting the enormous variety of drinking habits and tax regimes across the European Union, this certainly raises questions for Brussels over the viability of an EU alcohol policy."

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