Reducing harm caused by alcohol

MUP evidence and evaluation

The Scottish Government has tasked NHS Health Scotland with leading an independent evaluation of MUP.  You can find the full details of the evaluation on their website, and a list of the outcome areas and the studies within these is available here

Below is listed the main evaluation evidence, routine data and other studies that provide us with evidence of the impact of MUP so far. 


NHS Health Scotland -Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland’s Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) Monitoring Report 2019.  Published June 2019.  

This report, published every year, provides us with analysis of alcohol data from a variety of sources.  Alcohol sales data showed the lowest rate of alcohol consumption in Scotland for 25 years, with a 3% reduction in alcohol sales between 2017 and 2018 (which includes 3 months pre- and 9 months post-MUP implementation). This was compared to a 2% increase in England and Wales.  Scotland now consumes 9% more alcohol per adult than England and Wales; this is a reduction from 2017, when sales in Scotland were 14% higher sales, which was largely due to more alcohol being sold at lower prices in the off-trade. 

Read the report.

NHS Health Scotland -Compliance (Licensing) Study.  Published August 2019.  

Telephone interviews with 12 Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs), 5 Police Scotland Divisional Licensing Officers, and 3 Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) were conducted shortly after the implementation of MUP.  Licensed premises were felt to be largely compliant with MUP.  The on-trade had been mostly unaffected by the implementation of MUP, and no increases in illegal alcohol-related activity were identified as a result of the introduction of MUP.

Read the full report and the NHS Health Scotland summary.

Newcastle University - Immediate impact of MUP on alcohol purchases.  Published September 2019.  

Researchers analysed purchase data from the Kantar Worldpanel household shopping panel for 2015-18 (5,325 Scottish households, 54,807 English households as controls, and 10,040 households in northern England to control for potential cross border effects).  They looked at the price per gram of alcohol, the number of grams of alcohol purchased from off-trade by households, and the weekly household expenditure on alcohol.  The study concluded that in terms of immediate impact, the introduction of minimum unit pricing appears to have been successful in reducing the amount of alcohol purchased by households in Scotland. The action was targeted, in that reductions of purchased alcohol only occurred in the households that bought the most alcohol.  The reduction in purchased grams of alcohol was greater in lower income households.

Read the article.

Frontier Economics - Evaluating the impacts on the alcoholic drinks industry in Scotland: baseline evidence and initial impacts.  Published October 2019. 

A theory of change was developed to describe the possible impact of MUP on the Scottish alcoholic drinks industry, based on desk research and engagement with industry stakeholders.  A second element to the study was the collection and analysis of baseline secondary statistical evidence on the industry pre-MUP, the first wave of industry case studies conducted around nine months after the introduction of MUP, and qualitative research with border region stores to assess early evidence of cross-border shopping effects post-MUP. 

The organisations interviewed in the case studies reported that MUP has led to decreased volumes being sold, offset by increased prices leading to little overall impact on retailer revenue.  Prices were most likely to increase for high-strength cider and own-label products, and consumers were reported to be switching to products sold in smaller pack sizes, low-alcohol products and more premium products less affected by price increases.  Effects on producer revenues and profits were negative but small.  No retailers or producers reported closing stores or production facilities, reducing staff numbers or reducing investment as a result of MUP.  There was no significant impact on the on-trade.


No quantitative data was yet available for the periods covering the implementation of MUP.  The researchers found that there are a number of limitations with the routinely available quantitative data. These mean that in the second wave of the study, the researchers will only be able to observe large changes in the economic performance of the alcohol industry in Scotland as a whole arising from MUP. Smaller changes, or changes in particular parts of the industry, are unlikely to be detectable using these data.

 Read the full report and the NHS Health Scotland summary