Publicans make 400% mark-up on minerals

Irish publicans can make almost twice as much profit on soft drinks than pints of lager, according to RTÉ’s flagship consumer show.

The station’s The Consumer Show, which will air tonight on RTÉ One, calculates the average mark-up for a 200ml bottle of orange, cola, or lemonade is 407%, but 98% on a pint of lager.

The watchdog series worked out that the national average price of a pint of lager is €4.67 (profit of around €2.30), but approximately a pint of a mineral, or two bottles of 200ml or 220ml, costs around €5 (profit of around €4).

Campaigners for responsible drinking told the series they believe lower prices would encourage more responsible consumption of alcohol by consumers.

Fionnuala Sheehan of the Mature Enjoying of Alcohol in Society told the show soft drinks could be priced more keenly.

“Our message to consumers is about thinking about the amount that they drink and slowing down then the pace at which they drink that alcohol.

“And the ways you can do that is by interspersing your alcoholic drinks with water or with soft drinks or non-alcoholic cocktails.

“We would be keen that there would be a good choice offered to the consumer and they wouldn’t feel that the pricing of soft drinks is a disincentive to them.”

In the show, publican Gillian Prendergast, from Murphy’s in Rathmines, agreed that prices across the pub trade are too high.

“I can understand why [publicans] charge what they charge, because there are huge operating costs in running a pub,” she said.

“But, on the other side, if you are a customer coming into a pub to have a soft drink or, for example, a rock shandy, which can cost €5, it is very expensive. ”

Meanwhile, presenter Tadhg Enright found that some pubs do have cheaper options when it comes to soft drinks.

“There are a small but growing number of pubs which offer consumers a ‘splash pint’ of non-branded soft drinks for €1.20,” he said.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland, which represents most pubs in Ireland, said its members offer a variety of options and a wide range of prices, starting at €1.80.

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said the consumer will make their own choice as to what is good value for them.

“What’s really important for the consumer is the experience, and the consumer is a lot more discerning about the quality of the experience than the actual prices being charged,” he said.

The Consumer Show will air on RTÉ One at 8.30pm tonight.

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