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45p could have gone a long way

So the government is doing a U turn on a minimum unit price it seems. This is probably not a bad thing as it stands now

Kevin Vyse KBV Consultants / Institute of Packaging Professionals UK

So the government is doing a U turn on a minimum unit price it seems. This is probably not a bad thing as it stands now as, in my view, it is a veiled attempt to raise more tax revenue and not about addressing some of the real pressures of margin pinch and retailer MOQ's.  It would not have slowed any consumption to any great extent and would do little to deter.

The use and abuse of alcohol goes way beyond pricing and, although it might act as a temporary brake, it would do very little to stop the extremes of alcohol abuse. I am interested to know if anyone behind government policy doors has muted the idea of blank packaging as another solution, similar to that being required of the cigarette industry – another policy trying to control consumers without truly understanding motivations.

Packaging seems always to be the bad guy, even though every one of us uses it to identify our favourite trusted brands, locate the correct product and to deliver it safely to our homes. As far as the drink industry goes, packaging has probably done more to establish the credentials of drink brands than any advertising or point of sale promotion. Simply holding a bottle or can of a specific brand and product can identify our social position and status, and can be the centre of conversation or the conveyor of sentiments.

So it was with great interest that I accepted the invite to be a judge at the World Whisky Packaging Design awards. Here (along with my fellow evaluators) I was confronted with a display of what is truly great about packaging design. From a brand selling at £5600 to a much more humble offer at £35, the detail and craft surrounding the liquor inside was outstanding. We really are very good at this sort of thing in Europe and for once packaging, in this category, lost that tail end tag of 'waste'. We saw just how vital good packaging was to the brand proposition and the quality credentials of the product inside.  Nothing was wasted, every detail told a story and confirmed the product to the partaker.

That left me wondering, on my journey homeward, about the relationship of bad packs to the price we pay. Maybe packaging waste and product abuse is a function of how much we care about the product and maybe the lesson for all brand owners in the drinks industry is that 'cheap' is actually bad for brand asset and long term consumer relationship.  Maybe an extra few pennies of a levy could be spent by the brand owners making consumers care more about the brand they drink and promoting a less commodity driven attitude? That's just a packaging guy’s wishful thinking as I don't think HM government were for one minute intending to hand this proposed levy to the brand owners!
Institute of Packaging Professionals UK -

18 March 2013