Many F&B outlets raised Tiger beer prices above excise increase, Case survey finds

Many F&B outlets raised Tiger beer prices above excise increase, Case survey finds

A survey into purported unfair beer pricing found that of 16 food and beverage outlets in Singapore, only three did not raise prices above the calculated excise increase stated by the Ministry of Finance.

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The survey was conducted by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) on beer prices at 23 food & beverage vendors. Here is the statement from Case: 

Arising from the feedback from consumers about the increase in beer prices due to the increase in excise duty for liquor, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) surveyed 23 food & beverage establishments in various parts of the island to find out the extent of the increase in prices of beer.

A total of 11 food & beverage vendors were originally selected for the survey as these were the establishments that consumers complained had increased beer prices by more than a dollar. Tiger beer was selected for the survey because it is one of the more common and popular type of beer that consumers drink at coffee shops. CASE officers were sent as mystery shoppers to each establishment to purchase a big bottle (633ml) of Tiger beer. The prices were recorded and subsequently compared to the Ministry of Finance's calculated price increase of beer due to excise duty increase (assuming full pass-through with no price mark-up) dated 26 February 2014.

Eight out of the 11 vendors surveyed had marked up their prices of Tiger beer beyond the calculated retail price increase, with the highest amount being a $1.30 increase in the price of Tiger Beer at a Kopitiam outlet at Block 542 Serangoon North Avenue 4. The second highest increase was a $1.20 increase in the price of Tiger Beer recorded at another Kopitiam outlet at Blk 248 Simei Street 3. The third highest is a $0.90 increase at Yishun Seafood located at Blk 761 Yishun Street 72. Several of the vendors surveyed raised the price of their Tiger beer marginally above the calculated excise duty increase.

CASE subsequently did a second round of survey on the price of Tiger beer at the surrounding districts of these eight vendors to find out if there were any food and beverage establishments that sold Tiger beer at an equal or cheaper price.

CASE would like to highlight that three out of the total 23 food and beverage vendors surveyed did not raise prices of Tiger beer beyond the calculated excise duty increase and these outlets are Jin Wan Li Minimart at Blk 256 Yishun Ring Road, Kim San Leng at Blk 417 Yishun Avenue 11 and Yue Hua Food Place at Blk 412 Bedok North Avenue 2. Several of the other food and beverage vendors were found to have raised their prices marginally above the calculated excise duty increase.

In view of the survey results, we would like to urge consumers to make informed choices for their liquor purchases by shopping around and patronising liquor stores that continue to offer their liquor at good value for money. There are several outlets that have priced their liquor prices reasonably. Consumers should not patronise coffee shops or other food & beverage vendors that take advantage of the tax increase and inflate prices without clear justification.

CASE urges businesses to have clear and transparent sale policies and not to take advantage of consumers by raising prices without justification for the increase. CASE is committed to protecting consumers' interests and promoting fair business practices. We will continue to investigate and highlight any unfair practices in the marketplace.

Lim Biow Chuan, President of Consumers Association of Singapore

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