When Turkey's parliament last summer passed a new law that curtailed when and where alcohol can be sold and also placed new limits on booze advertising, wine and beer manufacturers expressed concern about how these new restrictions might impact their bottom line.
Almost a year later, it would appear that this concern was justified. As the Hurriyet Daily News reports, the recent decision by Efes, Turkey's largest beer maker, to shut down one of its breweries, is highlighting wider difficulties facing Turkey's liquor industry. From the HDN's article:
Players in the sector, especially wine producers, are feeling the pressure of tough regulations as alcohol fights to survive in a tough environment.
Anadolu Efes, which has faced setbacks in its main markets in Turkey and Russia due to legal regulations, announced April 2 that it had decided to shut down its Lüleburgaz factory in the northwestern province of Kırklareli, four months after closing two breweries in Russia.
The beer market in Turkey shrank by 12 percent in 2013 after Turkey banned alcohol advertising and tightened restrictions on its sale. Price hikes in the market stemming from the rise in Special Consumption Tax (ÖTV) caused a further retreat in the company’s revenues. Beer makes up 90 percent of alcoholic beverage consumption in Turkey, which fell to just over 1 billion liters in 2013 from 1.12 billion liters in 2012.
Selim Ellialtı, the owner of wine producer Suvla, said the sector’s morale had long been hurt by the government’s strict regulations.
“As boutique wine producers, we produce healthy, quality products,” Ellialtı told daily Hürriyet. “Our products do not contain high alcohol, but they are treated as grain alcohol. The small producers cannot express themselves because promotion and tasting have been banned. Winegrowers are also concerned that no one will buy their grapes.”
The government of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) said last summer that the new regulations were enacted in order to protect Turkey's youth from the dangers of alcohol abuse. But the truth of the matter is that there is little evidence to show that Turkey's youth -- or adults -- are imbibing too much. In fact, Turkey has one of the world's lowest rates of alcohol consumption, a rate that, even before the new law was passed, was already falling.