A photo of a bottle shop shelf has led frustrated shoppers to demand an explanation for why non-alcoholic drinks are so expensive, when they aren’t taxed as heavily as alcoholic wine.

A Reddit user walked into a Liquorland store and was infuriated at how zero per cent wines, beers and spirits cost the same, if not more, than their alcoholic counterparts – from between $AUD10 to $18 a bottle. 

‘I thought a big per cent of alcohol was tax, surely this shouldn’t apply to alcohol-free drinks?’

Major bottle shop chains, breweries and distilleries told Daily Mail Australia there are reasons non-alcoholic wines are sold at similar prices – arguing higher production costs, including a more complicated brewing process, drive prices up. 

This picture of a Liquorland bottle shop shelf – showing non-alcoholic wines being sold for between $10 and $18 – led a furious shopper to demand an explanation 

At Dan Murphy’s, the 700ml bottle of Gordons London has barely any difference in price between the non-alcoholic version and the alcoholic version

Online at Dan Murphy’s, a 700ml bottle of Gordons London non-alc gin costs $37.99, while the alcoholic version costs a bit more at $46.99 and only $41.90 for members.

Endeavour Group, Dan Murphy’s owner, said that the complicated manufacturing process of non-alcoholic beverages is the main reason the prices are so close to one another.

‘It’s important to note that in some instances these products have different manufacturing cost structures due to the process that is undertaken to remove the alcohol,’ a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

Seadrift, a local Sydney craft distillery, also pointed to the production costs of non-alc spirits as a factor in their pricing. 

Seadrift’s co-founder, Carolyn Whiteley, said the growing market of non-alcoholic drinks is still new, so small distilleries also bear the brunt a lot of unexpected costs. 

‘The costs to develop, produce and market are all significantly higher, meaning that the only people making money are the retailers and the large brands that can leverage brand awareness,’ Ms Whiteley told Daily Mail Australia. 

Non-alcoholic distilleries often employ manual labour, and do not have automated production lines or larger stills which can produce much higher volumes for the same or fewer labour costs.

The advantages that big breweries have also impacts non-alc beers like Heaps Normal, another Sydney brewery, which echoed Seadrift’s concerns about the market.

‘Our beers are brewed in the same way as normal craft beers, using the same premium ingredients,’ a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.

‘We are also a small independent company, we don’t benefit from any of the economies of scale across our supply chain that the big brewers do.’ 

The group also said that they needed to use higher quantities of some ingredients to ensure their beer meets the the standards of others on the market. 

Seadrift’s co-founder, Carolyn Whiteley (left), said the growing market of non-alcoholic drinks is still new, so small distilleries also have to bear the brunt a lot of unexpected costs

Heaps Normal, a Sydney brewery behind low alcoholic beers, said that bigger brands have an easier time on the market 

Ms Whiteley said non-alcoholic brands also typically need to spend big on marketing. 

As of yet, very few if any non-alc brands have reached a point of wide brand recognition in Australia, making marketing spend much higher and brand loyalty lower.

‘If we want good quality, local non-alcs to exist in the market then we need to support the industry,’ Ms Whiteley said. 

‘If not we will be reduced to having product that is made from basic colours and flavours such as the UK’s Gordons 0%, imported and sold here instead.

‘For some people that’s fine, for others who are trying to moderate or give up – something that tastes amazing, is made from natural ingredients, supports local industry and is actually good for you is worth paying for.’

Coles, Liquorland’s owner, declined to comment.  

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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