Alko, the alcohol retail monopoly of Finland, reports that sales fell by almost 12% in 2022 compared to 2021. In 2021 6.7 million liters of alcohol were sold by Alko. This year it has decreased to 5.9 million liters.
The reduction in Alko sales is due to decline in alcohol affordability. During 2022 there was a 2.3% increase in the cost of alcohol products sold at Alko.
The Finnish people support the current alcohol policy system, including the government-run alcohol retail monopoly. Such a system removes the profit interest from alcohol retail and instead focuses on protecting public health goals.
A poll by THL found that 53% of Finns support the existing alcohol policy system and 8% would like to see improvements to the alcohol policies.
- Sales of sparkling wine decreased by 17.5% in 2022 compared to 2021.
- Meanwhile, sales of red wine declined by 13.8%,
- beer sales fell by 12.9%,
- white wine sales reduced by 10.8%,
- spirits sales fell by 9.3%, and
- rosé sales declined by 7.9% in 2022 compared to 2021.
Alko needs to be protected shows studies
The alcohol retail monopoly removes the profit interest from alcohol retail. Thereby it makes alcohol less affordable to people because it does not seek to increase profits by selling cheap alcohol.
In April 2022, Movendi International reported research on the public health benefits of Alko: the study found that the retail monopoly is effective in preventing and recucing alcohol harm. Studies show that if Alko was abolished or even weakened it would increase people’s and communities’ vulnerability to greater harm from alcohol.
Research by Professor Tim Stockwell and his team found that if the alcohol retail monopoly in Finland was abolished, alcohol consumption would rise by 9% and alcohol mortality would rise by 14% in the country.
The weakening of alcohol laws through the 2018 Alcohol Act has increased alcohol use in Finland. The Act allowed alcohol products with alcohol content below 5.5% to be sold in grocery stores outside of Alko – making alcohol more widely availabel.
THL conducted a time series analysis from 2000 to 2021 to find out how this worsening of the alcohol policy system affected alcohol consumption and related harm in Finland. The time series analysis controlled for other impacts on alcohol consumption such as changes caused by the alcohol tax, travel imports of alcohol, the economy, the hot summer, and storage of alcohol before the tax change.
The study found that, alcohol consumption increased by 3% because of the worsening of the alcohol policy system in the 2018 Alcohol Act.
Allowing grocery stores outside of Alko to sell alcohol products will dismantle Alko and increase alcohol use and harm
Allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores would dismantle the alcohol retail monopoly. As this would allow any alcohol products with similar alcohol content (ABV 15%) to be sold outside Alko. This would lead to cascading negative effects on alcohol policy in Finland, and rising alcohol harm.
- The worsening of alcohol policy through the 2018 Alcohol Act opened 3% of Alko’s sales to competition.
- In 2020, 45% of Alko’s sales were wine and 30% were strong alcohol products, such as liquor.
- Therefore if wine and other alcohol products with 15% ABV were allowed in grocery stores, up to 75% of Alko’s sales would be opened up to competition and selling alcohol with profit maximization motives.
- Thus, Alko will be dismantled as it would not be able to compete with grocery stores or the alcohol industry which sells alcohol products to maximize profits.
Such a change would be on a completely different scale than the change in the Alcohol Act 2018. ‘Wines in the grocery stores’ would eventually lead to the closure of Alko as we know it today,” said Pia Mäkelä, research professor at THL, as per their website.Pia Mäkelä, research professor, THL