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Drink and beer prices will rise ‘significantly’ after March 1 in Thailand

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The spirits and beer manufacturers and distributors have informed their trading partners that they will increase the prices of selected products starting next week, an informed source at Thai newspaper The Nation said.

Starting next month, the price of rice whiskey will rise by 120 baht for a box of small bottles – from 1,242 baht to 1,362 baht – and 54 baht for a box of large bottles from 1,158 baht to 1,212 baht, the source said.

“The price of beer will also increase by 2-4 baht per can, or 48 baht per box of large bottles [from 805 baht to 853] baht,”

However, the excise department said that no manufacturer reported price increases to the department. The law requires manufacturers to notify if they plan to raise the price by more than five per cent of the level suggested by the department.

The ministry insisted that the government had no policy to increase the tax on alcoholic beverages, so any price increase must be due to other reasons.

The Krungthep Turakij newspaper yesterday surveyed alcohol stores in Chiang Mai’s Saraphi district and found that while prices were still the same, most stores are anticipating increases after March 1.

“Small retailers are expected to be hit hard because they don’t have enough cash to stock up on liquor before the price hike,” said Kanpaphot Utcharoen, a liquor store owner in Chiang Mai. He said that after the price hike, the stores would suffer from reduced sales as customers began to buy less alcohol.

He urged the government to ease restrictions on the alcohol industry to allow access for new, smaller manufacturers and promote competition with large manufacturers. “This would ultimately result in more affordable prices for alcoholic beverages and generate income for local entrepreneurs,” he added.

The cabinet is currently reviewing a draft liquor bill that would lower barriers to entry for smaller brewers into an industry long dominated by giant multinational corporations known to Thailand.

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