UK alcohol consumption stabilises but beer woes remain

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The decline in UK alcohol consumption came to a halt last year although beer sales continued to fall, according to government data.
Alcohol tax returns indicate that total consumption of alcohol in the UK rose 0.6 per cent in 2010 following a decline of some 12 per cent since 2004. The stabalisation of the market comes also in the context of a particularly sharp decline in 2009, when consumption dropped 6.1 per cent.
Spirits fared the best last year with sales rising 4 per cent while beer continued to struggle – with consumption per head down 1.9 per cent.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) said the figures reinforce the case for a freeze in beer duty to discourage the shift towards higher strength drinks.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said scrapping plans for further increases in beer duty in the Budget (23 March) would nudge consumers towards lower strength drinks and give a boost to the brewing and pub industry.