Liquor price rigging
Despite the free trade agreement (FTA) between Korea and the European Union, premium whisky from the region is sold at prices 5 times higher than import prices, a consumer advocacy group said Sunday.
According to the latest survey by the National Council of the Green Consumers’ Networks (NCGCN), the average retail price of whisky imported from the Europeam Union per 100 milliliters is 13,501 won, well above the average import price including taxes of 2,664 won.
With support from the Fair Trade Commission, the consumer group conducted a survey last month to compare the prices of 74 different imported whiskies sold at department stores and liquor vendors. The results are available at the website of the Korean version of the Consumer Reports, known as Smart Consumer (www.smartconsumer.go.kr).
“The difference between the average retail and import price is 10,837 won, which is much higher than other imported goods here,” an official from the group said. “And
In particular, the survey revealed that the retail price of whisky from the European Union is 36 percent more expensive here than that of other countries on average.
For example, a 15-year-old Glenfiddich by William Grant & Sons is sold for 7,698 won per 100 milliliters in the United Kingdom, for 8,517 in the United States, for 7,127 won in Japan but costs 14,060 in Korea.
An 18-year-old bottle of Johnny Walker Gold by Diagio retails at 11,885 won per 100 milliliters in the United Kingdom, for 15,621 won in the United States, for 15,136 won in Japan but costs 16,472 in Korea.
The NCGCN cited the monopoly of a few whisky importers and a complex web of importers and retailers as the main reason behind the high prices here. Currently, four importers ― Diagio Korea, Pernod Ricard Korea, William Grant & Sons Korea and Edrington Korea dominate the local market.
Based on the result, the group suggested that the government reform the retail procedure for whisky and make a list of import prices public in order to bring down consumer prices. It also plans to request the FTC launch an investigation into alleged price-fixing among whisky importers.
The country's free trade agreement (FTA) with the major whisky-making region has made little difference to prices on the shelves, the group said.
The average retail prices of imported whisky increased 0.23 percent in May from the same month last year, while the import prices of whisky from the European Union soared 1.41 percent in the first quarter from the same period last year.
According to the survey, whisky is cheaper at big retail chains than department stores by 9 percent on average.
In a separate survey by the group on 500 consumers aged between 20 and 60, about 42 percent of respondents said whisky is expensive while only 18 percent said their prices are reasonable. About 38 percent said the import prices of whisky should be available.