Supermarket chief says no to minimum pricing

By Matt Eley Matt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chief medical officer, Asda, Supermarket

A supermarket boss has hit out at the Chief Medical Officer's recommendation to introduce minimum pricing. Peter Marks, chief executive of the...

A supermarket boss has hit out at the Chief Medical Officer's recommendation to introduce minimum pricing.

Peter Marks, chief executive of the Co-operative group, said alcohol problems in the UK could not be solved by just raising prices and that he was "not a big fan" of minimum pricing.

He said: "We have a problem in this country and we have had it for centuries in that a minority of people drink too much.

"It is a cultural thing and it's deep-rooted. Putting prices up in my view is not going to solve it.

"It's about education and cultural changes and it will take a long time to resolve."

Yesterday Sir Liam Donaldson said a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol - a figure called for in The Publlican's Make it the Minimum​ campaign - would help solve alcohol problems and save £1bn a year.

Marks added: "I understand the pressures and the costs to the NHS and the social costs of drink problems, but there is no panacea and in my view just putting prices up will not solve the problem.

"The other problem is you are punishing the majority for the minority and having a drink for some people is one of the few pleasures they get.

"We (supermarkets) are an easy one for the government to have a go at, be it for obesity of alcohol. We have a contribution to make but it's only a contribution."

Marks was giving the keynote address at the International Food & Drink event at Excel in London today.

The Co-op's recent £1.6bn takeover of Somerfield means it is now the fifth biggest supermarket chain in the UK.

The Publican​ recently wrote to the chief executives of the big four supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's Asda and Morrisons - to request meetings to discuss the responsible retailing of alcohol.

So far Sainsbury's are the only company to respond, but a meeting has yet to be set.

Related topics: Legislation

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