Supermarket chief frothing over beer prices jumping under new system

Price pressure: IGA supermarket owner Bob Mathews fears a big drop-off in trade under a container deposit system. Prices are expected to rise from November ahead of its introduction in December.  Picture: MARK JESSER
Price pressure: IGA supermarket owner Bob Mathews fears a big drop-off in trade under a container deposit system. Prices are expected to rise from November ahead of its introduction in December. Picture: MARK JESSER

NSW beer and soft drink consumers will have to pay an extra $4 a slab under the state’s new container deposit scheme.

The change means the same beverages will sell for less in Victoria.

The situation has East Albury and Springdale Heights IGA supermarket owner Bob Mathews fearing an exodus of customers to Wodonga.

“All the way down the river it’s going to have a significant impact, people will go across the river to where it’s cheaper,” Mr Mathews said.

“People will travel kilometres to save four cents on their petrol; beer it’s a very emotional purchase issue and there’s no doubt in my mind people will travel to get their beer.”

The $4 mark-up is based on data from Lion Beer, which brews brands such as XXXX Gold and Hahn SuperDry.

It’s told vendors a 30-pack will cost an extra $3.60, 24 $2.88 and a dozen $1.44.

The figures equate to 12 cents per container, but do not include GST which Mr Mathews said would take the price for 30 to $4.

Mr Mathews said alcohol totalled 20 per cent of his sales with beer 60 to 70 per cent of those transactions.

He said there had been times when eight to ten slabs of discounted XXXX Gold were sold to one customer.

“But it’s not only beer, there’s soft drink and water too,” Mr Mathews said.

“If people go to Wodonga to buy their alcohol they will buy groceries there as well.

“If Victoria, NSW, ACT and Queensland did this simultaneously there wouldn’t be a problem in the world, but they’re not.”

Mr Mathews has raised his concerns with member for Albury Greg Aplin and Cross Border Commissioner James McTavish.

Mr Aplin said he had written to NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and Mr McTavish to reflect Mr Mathews’ views.

“Clearly the best resolution for this would be for Victoria to adapt a similar container deposit scheme, so it was uniform because there will be differentials in packaging,” Mr Aplin said.

But he said those claiming 10 cents a container from December would not lose.

“While it might appear you’re paying more, and you are initially, you are able to have it fully reimbursed, so effectively it’s a neutral outcome and you’ve got the satisfaction of having those items taken out of the litter stream,” Mr Aplin said.

Liquor vendor Dan Murphy’s which trades in Albury, but not Wodonga, will fight to maintain its consumer share.

“There are a number of reasons customers choose to shop at one retailer over another,” a spokeswoman said.

“Price is just one of those factors to which we remain committed to being competitive despite the pricing differential that a container deposit levy will introduce to border town drinks retailers.”