Spain’s spirits industry saw sales fall by 10% to EUR7bn (US$9.3bn) last year as consumers continued to shun premium alcohol brands in the recession, according to the new director of leading trade body FEBE.

Speaking in Madrid today (5 January), Bosque Torremocha blamed the Government’s tax hike last July for the plummeting sales. «We remain in a very complicated and worrying scenario and not just for this [alcoholic drinks] sector,» he said.

Torremocha added the industry will lobby the Government harder to lower spirits duties, which he claimed are much higher than for beer and wine. According to Torremocha, spirits sales account for 75% of Government tax earnings for alcoholic drinks compared to 23% for beer and 2% for wine.

Spirits are taxed at 40% of their market price, he said. The sector will also fight against growing «fraudulent» spirits imports, Torremocha added. Last year’s figures were slightly better than 2009 when sales fell 12% in one of the toughest years on record for Spain’s economy.