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Swedes toast to cheap alcohol from abroad

Swedes toast to cheap alcohol from abroad

Published: 01 Mar 2011 13:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Mar 2011 13:04 GMT+01:00

One third of beer consumed in Sweden is bought from outside the country’s state-run liquor store monopoly Systembolaget as consumers often cross borders or seas in search of lower prices.

Thanks to the strong Swedish krona, alcohol is now at comparably rock-bottom prices at German and Danish border shops.

Last year alcohol sales at German border shops rose by 31 percent compared to 2009, according to calculations from the Swedish Spirits & Wine Suppliers Association (Spirits & Vinleverantörföreningens - SSWS).

This also means an explosion of business for bus operators who run day trips to border towns.

“Some people even book an empty seat, they want more space for what they buy," Mary Lamm, a travel agent with Ramkvilla Bus, told the TT news agency.

According to the association's estimates, individual consumers brought more than 45 million litres of alcohol into Sweden from abroad last year.

The Spirits & Wine Suppliers Association admits that the calculations are made in broad terms, and point out that no one today can confirm exactly how much alcohol is admitted into Sweden.

The rise in demand at border shops has also triggered a higher volume of alcohol exported by the association’s member companies to German border shops, where a large proportion of customers are Swedes.

"Of course our members sell beer where the Swedish consumers are and that is increasingly at the border stores," Frederick Sörbom of Sveriges Bryggerier ('Brewers of Sweden') told TT.

Last year Swedish brewers exported almost 43 million litres of beer to popular border stores, five million more litres than the previous year.

If people bringing alcohol or beer into Sweden can prove their claims that it is only for private use, the policies regarding imports are extremely generous, in principle unlimited.

The lax import regulations have led to the development of networks that buy booze cheap abroad and sell it for a profit back in Sweden.

Anders Tragardh, head of the border protection department in Malmö in southern Sweden, fears that the strong krona could lead to an even greater influx of smuggled alcohol.

“Yes, of course, as the product becomes cheaper, the profits become greater. It can certainly entice more people to smuggle,” he told TT.

TT/The Local/kh (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

16:13 March 1, 2011 by kenny8076
And yet Sweden will continue to sell at ridiculous costs. Look how much money they are loosing. Would rather sell a nominal amount at high prices than a boat load and lower prices.............. this is why they missed out on selling the 31% that went to the German stores, and why 1 in 3 are bought outside Sweden. It blows my mind how they do business here
16:31 March 1, 2011 by zircon
Why not brew it yourself. You can get pissed out of your f... ing mind far more real.
17:04 March 1, 2011 by beeker
I agree with zircon. Make your own. Aquavit is easy. There are several good books and lots of web sites on home distillation. There's even a weekend class (german language, but the science is the same) in Austria near a couple of good ski areas.
20:07 March 1, 2011 by Nemesis
More like it is every third beer consumed in Sweden was bought in Sweden, with two thirds bought abroad.
21:10 March 1, 2011 by zeero
Good, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1-- Now it will publish it... :-)
23:45 March 1, 2011 by johnny1939
I think the wine is very reasonable in Stockholm at least. I could never be bothered w/ shopping for booze abroad there are more interesting things to buy and I feel kind of silly dragging around plastic bags and they are heavy too.
23:58 March 1, 2011 by Ivan Juric
If you need to travel abroad to buy booze then maybe it's not the price of the booze that is the problem.
09:46 March 2, 2011 by eppie
@Ivan Juric

:) indeed!!

Anyway, when you buy wines of over 200SEK /bottle the prices are very reasonable at systembolaget.
10:17 March 2, 2011 by Rishonim
All this problem could be solved if SystemMafia would loosing up the grip on the monopoly. Do you think it is reasonable that in 2011 we are not allowed to buy booz past 15:00 on a Saturday???This is ridiculous and I am happy to see people going the extra length to get booz abroad and causing a drain in systemMafia coffers.
11:33 March 2, 2011 by ooh456
SB is making bags of money, not losing it. Otherwise they would change their policy and lower prices. Visit a store on a Friday night and see for yourself. If people want to buy cheap alcohol across the border, that's their right under EU law.
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