Turnover rises to Rs.8,840 crore; highest profit-maker among State public-sector enterprises
In spite of a growing anti-liquor movement spearheaded by the Catholic Church and the panchayats and municipalities getting the right to say ‘no’ to liquor shops and bars, there was no respite in alcohol consumption in Kerala last year.
Consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor rose by two-digit percentage in terms of value in the financial year just closed—though, in terms of absolute volume of consumption, the rise was marginal.
Government functionaries had hoped that, for the first time in several years, liquor consumption would decline in 2012-13. The hope has been belied. However, in terms of the volume of liquor consumed, there was a fall in the rate of growth.
And, liquor continued to be among the top contributors to the State exchequer.
The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco), the public-sector liquor distribution monopoly, maintained its position as the most successful State public-sector enterprise and the highest profit-maker last year.
Bevco sold liquor valued at Rs.8,840 crore, up by more than 12 per cent over last year’s Rs.7,860 crore.
According to a senior official, of the Rs.8,840 crore turnover, Rs.7,250 crore had gone to the State coffers by way of taxes and other charges, proving that liquor was the most lucrative business for the government.
Bevco sold 244 lakh cases (one case contains 12 bottles) of IMFL. This was only a marginal rise from last year’s 241.78 lakh cases.
The fall in the rate of growth of liquor consumption is noteworthy because the rate of growth had always been of two-digit percentage in the past.
Bevco had sold 171 lakh cases in 2008-09, 188 lakh cases in 2009-10, and 217 lakh cases in 2010-11. The fall in the rate of growth—though the absolute volume of consumption had gone up marginally—is said to be because of the increase in the prices.
Rum as favourite
Rum continued to be the favourite drink of Malayalis, though brandy is close behind. Drinkers in southern Kerala had a higher preference for rum than those in northern Kerala. For the first time, beer consumption hit the one-crore-case mark, with 102 lakh cases sold in 2012-13.
Younger drinkers, especially late teens and freshers, opted for beer. While the market for wine has expanded across India, Kerala was cool to wine.
Interestingly, the Malayali drinker has to pay nearly eight times more than the actual price at which Bevco buys from the liquor manufacturers. The huge earnings made by the government, as taxes and other charges, explain the huge difference. The government made Rs.6,739 crore through Bevco in 2010-11, Rs. 5,526 in 2009-10, and Rs.4,631 in 2008-09.
Onam is the best season for Bevco, followed by Christmas and New Year. Bevco has 338 liquor outlets. There are around 700 bars across the State.
Over the past decade, Bevco turnover has consistently kept a two-digit annual rise. However, the actual volume of liquor consumed in Kerala would be substantially higher than the Bevco sales—the liquor brought in from outside Kerala and India as well as smuggled liquor has to be factored in.
Plus the huge quantities of toddy legally and illegally made.