Only 3 of 23 drinks vendors raised beer prices fairly

A survey of 23 food and beverage outlets into purported unfair beer pricing has found that only three did not raise prices above the calculated excise increase stated by the Ministry of Finance.

Although the calculated increase for the price of a 633ml bottle of Tiger beer was about 40 cents, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) discovered that many vendors have increased the price above that limit.

A Kopitiam outlet at Block 542, Serangoon North Avenue 4, was even found to have increased the price by $1.30. The second highest was a $1.20 increase at another Kopitiam outlet at Block 248, Simei Street 3. They have since reduced their price, according to a spokesman for the outlets.

CASE officers carried out the survey over the past two weeks, posing as customers at outlets in areas such as Serangoon, Bedok, Yishun, Hougang and Ang Mo Kio.

Initially, 11 establishments that had been complained about were chosen for the survey after customers said they had hiked prices by over $1. A further survey was carried out to gauge the prices of other outlets in districts surrounding them.

The consumer watchdog said it based its research on the price of a 633ml bottle of Tiger as it is one of the most common types of beer that customers drink at coffee shops.

Last month, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) warned businesses about profiteering from the increase in liquor duties. MTI also said in its statement that it will work closely with CASE and the Competition Commission of Singapore to "monitor the market for any unfair pricing and coordinated price hikes which are anti-competitive".

CASE president Lim Biow Chuan urged consumers to make "informed choices" when they purchase alcohol. He also urged businesses to have "clear and transparent sale policies and not to take advantage of consumers by raising prices without justification for the increase".

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