India. Hard Liquor Sales on the Rocks; Beer, Wine on Highball in Kerala

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More than 20 months since the state government’s new liquor policy was put into action, the results have left the state with much to cheer about, but there is also room for ample concern.

The consumption of hard liquor has plummeted giving cause for cheer, but the sharp increase in the sale of beer leaves much to be desired, say anti-liquor activists.

A comparison of liquor sales during the first 11 months of 2015 with that of the same 11 months in 2014 will prove this. Latest data with the Kerala State Beverages Corporation, the government-owned liquor monopoly, shows that sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) has fallen by 11.17 per cent in 2015. Attribute it to the closure of over 730 bars and a 78 government-run liquor shops since March 31, 2014.

On the other hand, the mushrooming of beer and wine parlours has shot up beer sales by 44.96 per cent during January-November 2015 compared to January-November 2014. Wine sales have risen by 184.54 per cent. “When you take the past 20 months, IMFL sales have gone down by 25 per cent.
It is simple logic when you consider the three pillars of‘Availability, Accessibility and Affordability. But Kerala will pay heavily in the years to come for allowing beer and wine parlours to mushroom,” said Johnson Edayaranmula, director, Alcohol and Drug Information Centre-India.

Brandy sales fell by 7.8 per cent with Bevco selling 68.63 lakh litres less during January-November 2015 compared to the previous year. Rum, which has already lost out to brandy in popularity in Kerala, sold 1.23 crore litres less. Rum sales slipped by 15.21 per cent.

Sale of gin and vodka fell by 43.3 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. On the other hand, Bevco sold 3.20 crore more litres of beer and 9.35 lakh litres of wine during January-November 2015 than in 2014.

Surprisingly, whisky sales have also registered an increase of 17.36 per cent. 2015 saw tipplers downing an additional 3.31 lakh litres of whisky than in 2014, going by the data.