Illegal alcohol causing serious health risks in LatAm, new study shows
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Illegal alcohol causing serious health risks in LatAm, new study shows

After a study in six countries, Peruvians and Ecuadorians lead in the ranking for consumption of cheap and illegal alcohol in Latin America, putting their health in serious danger.

The study carried out by Euromonitor International indicates that one out of every four bottles of alcohol in Latin America is illegal. In this context, the analysis explains that Peru is the country in Latin America with the highest percentage of illegal consumption of alcohol in the region (30.8%).

According to the document entitled ‘Illegal liquor market in 6 countries’, “figures show that in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Peru, the availability of this kind of alcohol is growing and with it come risks to the population”.

Speaking to Colombia’s El Espectador daily newspaper, Lourdes Chavarría, manager of Euromonitor, who coordinated the study in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia said:

“This situation is showing to be a health problem. Craft drinks are made with no control, there is no care in the materials used and when they distill it they do not contol the alcohol levels of the final product. Then it becomes a risk to consumer health.”


Percentages of illegal alcohol market in Latin America. Courtesy of Euromonitor

Among the countries studied, first in consumption of illegal alcohol is Peru (30.8%), followed by Ecuador (28.6%), and in third place is El Salvador (23.5%).

The study explains that a regional consumption of 22.2% in 2011 became 24.9% in 2013. It concludes that the rise of the sale of such liquor is because it is a lucrative business.

“In 2012 alone, illegal alcohol sales amounted to 2.368 million dollars,” the study says.

In Ecuador “a third of liquor consumed is illegal, while the tax loss including tax leakage due to this market exceeds 128 million dollars.”

The report concludes that “smuggled and adulterated alcohol are the types most widely sold in Latin America; together they reach 80% of the tax loss in the region”.

Peru’s problem

Not only are there huge health risks involved in the consumption of pirate liquor, but there is also an economic loss for the countries involved.

The Peruvian industry fails to receive $584 million from the sale of illegal alcohol or contraband. For the Peruvian government, this percentage represents a loss of $88 million that should be raised by taxes, according to Euromonitor.

A report by the National Society of Industries (SNI) indicates that consumption of the  drinks described caused a loss of two thousand lives in 2009, and more than 3% of the health sector budget would be for the prevention and treatment and diseases related to injury caused by the intake of illegal alcohol.

The Commission to Combat Piracy and Customs Crimes has implemented a Multi-Sectoral Working Table in order to implement actions to counter the production and marketing of counterfeit alcoholic, adulterated and / or contraband beverages.