Wales has been forced to delay plans to introduce a minimum unit price of 50p on alcohol until at least 2020 after a challenge from Portugal.

The Welsh government aims to follow in the footsteps of Scotland by introducing MUP in a bid to “reduce the devastation caused by alcohol harm”.

Lawmakers in Scotland had to clear a number of obstacles and go through various different courts in order to push the measure through last year.

Now EU member Portugal has requested a “detailed opinion” on how the regulations will be implemented, as it fears it could affect exports to the UK.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Receiving the detailed opinion means that the earliest that we will now be able to lay the draft regulations before the National Assembly for Wales for its consideration will be autumn this year.

“Should these regulations be passed by the National Assembly for Wales, I would anticipate that the minimum pricing regime would come into force in early 2020.

“I remain fully committed to introducing a minimum price for alcohol in Wales. Alcohol is a major cause of death and illness in Wales and once implemented – will make an important contribution to reducing the devastation caused by alcohol related harm in Wales.”

Minimum unit pricing has delivered a hammer blow to white cider in Scotland as sales have fallen off a cliff since it was introduced on May 1, 2018. Ale and premium ciders are in growth there following the law change.

“Scottish shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to buying alcohol, shifting their spend to more premium products or indeed mixing up their current repertoire,” said Nielsen analyst Gemma Cooper. “Around one in five shoppers claim to have bought more premium brands as they believed them to be more affordable when compared to cheaper brands.”