Wed. Dec 11th, 2019

Western Cape may “increase alcohol prices”: Here’s what you could soon be paying

alcohol prices western capeA government-backed study at UCT has concluded that higher alcohol prices curb dangerous drinking. But how would an increase work in the Western Cape?

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It’s the news about booze that few of us will want to peruse. But a government-backed study in the Western Cape has concluded that cranking up the price of alcohol would help reduce the amount of binge-drinking in South Africa.

The research – which was carried out by a team at the University of Cape Town – determined that a 10% increase on booze prices and the introduction of a minimum unit price could reduce consumption by up to 15% for those classed as “heavy drinkers”, and “binge-drinkers” would also curb their compulsions by 6%.

Could the Western Cape increase its booze prices?

Cape Town ETC shared the report made public by the university’s School of Economics. Using case studies from other countries, the team were confident that a revised price structure would be the way forward. However, there’s no guarantee that the local government will implement these findings… but the option is on the table.

South Africans were declared “the sixth-biggest drinkers in the world” by the World Health Organisation back in March. Our beer and liquor prices are amongst some of the cheapest in the world – a reputation that was further enhanced by a Deutsche Bank study

The cheapest major cities for a pint of beer:

Out of 56 major cities on the planet, both Cape Town and Johannesburg proved to be a drinker’s paradise:

(Based on a 500ml serving of beer, at the exchange rate of $1 : R14.46)

  1. Prague, Czech Republic – $1.60 / R23.14.
  2. Manila, Philippines – $1.90 / R27.48.
  3. Lagos, Nigeria – $1.95 / R28.20.
  4. Lisbon, Portugal – $2 / R28.92.
  5. Johannesburg, South Africa – $2.10 / R30.37.
  6. Cairo, Egypt – $2.20 / R31.82.
  7. Cape Town, South Africa – $2.25 / R32.54.
  8. Buenos Aries, Argentina – $2.30 / R33.26.
  9. Warsaw, Poland – $2.60 / R37.60.
  10. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – $2.80 / R40.49.

Alcohol prices: Why they could be increased

Corne van Walbeek is a professor at UCT’s School of Economics. He told CapeTalk that their proposals would suggest setting the minimum price of alcohol to R6 per unit, ending the days of ultra-cheap booze on our store shelves.

The researcher is confident that this price adjustment “would not affect most drinks“, but would actually clamp-down on the dangerously low prices offered in certain establishment. If the Western Cape Government was to go for both a price hike and a minimum unit price, this is what Capetonians could expect to pay for their drinks:

Drink Units Current
average price
+10% Minimum price
at R6 per unit
Beer bottle (330ml) 1.7 R20.55 R22.60 R10.20
Pint of beer (500ml) 3 R32.54 R35.79 R18
Wine glass (175ml) 2.1 R42 R46.20 R12.60
Wine bottle (750ml) 9 R79 R86.50 R45

How will increased alcohol prices affect local citizens?

The effects on our bank balance wouldn’t be too dire, based on current estimates. The suggested increase would basically mean you’re paying for nine drinks at the cost of ten. As the research team stated, the price increase would only have a noticeable impact on the dirt cheap drinks that are being sold at alarmingly-low rates.

The truth is, a large majority of people who are willing to pay R325 for 10 pints of beer are likely to pay R357 for the same amount. But should the Western Cape government decide to adopt these findings into law, they do have the potential to put a handful of people off having an extra one or two drinks – and that’s a start, at least.

  • Averages prices for wine and beer costs sourced from Deutsche Bank, Numbeo and StatsSA respectively.

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