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30th December 2022

Government must go further to encourage low and no alcohol uptake, say Portman Group

  • Portman Group, the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator, is urging the government to do more to encourage the uptake of low/no alcohol alternatives, as the market is potentially showing signs of plateauing after rapid growth
  • New annual YouGov research reveals one in six respondents (17%) drink less alcohol after having tried low and no alternatives
  • Over a quarter (29%) of alcohol drinkers now also semi-regularly* drink alcohol alternatives

30 December 2022: The Portman Group is urging the government to do more to encourage the uptake of low and no alcohol drinks and launch the long-awaited consultation on Low-alcohol descriptors.

The consultation would seek views on updating the terminology around the various ways in which products below 1.2%ABV are marketed – a key source of confusion for UK consumers. After a delay of nearly two years, the Portman Group is calling on the government to prioritise the review in 2023.

The Portman Group, the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator, warns not to let the positive trend lose momentum after years of growing UK sales and consumer interest in the category.

New YouGov consumer research reveals that over one quarter (29%) of alcohol drinkers now also semi-regularly* drink alcohol alternatives, compared to almost a third (32%) in 2021 and a quarter (25%) in 2020. For the fifth year in a row, the top reasons cited for drinking low and no alcohol are being able to drive home safely from social events and taking part in social events without drinking to excess. Furthermore, one in six (17%) of those who have tried low and no drinks say their alcohol consumption has reduced since first trying them, demonstrating their role in encouraging moderate and responsible drinking.

With New Year’s Resolutions round the corner, those that plan to reduce alcohol consumption in 2023 said they will drink fewer alcoholic drinks at home (37%), have more alcohol-free days (30%) and a further quarter (25%) said they plan to stop drinking at home altogether.

Matt Lambert, CEO, the Portman Group – the alcohol social responsibility body and marketing regulator said: “The variety and availability of low and no alcoholic drinks has never been stronger, reflecting a huge increase in consumer popularity.

“The vast majority of consumers already drink responsibly within the Chief Medical Officer guidelines, but it is particularly pleasing to see evidence that low and no options are playing a role in encouraging people to moderate their drinking.

“We are calling on the government to launch the low-alcohol descriptors consultation this year to give further support to the low and no alcohol sector. It has been expected for nearly two years, but given the turbulent political year this hasn’t been prioritised. This is an important review which should see alignment with global descriptors and give another push to this innovative category which is an active substitute for alcohol and supports moderate drinking.”

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Notes to editors

  1. *Use of the term ‘semi-regular drinkers’ refers to those who either ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ drink low and no alcohol products.
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,381 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th – 29th November 2022.  Similar surveys were carried out in December 2020 and 2021. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  3. The Portman Group was formed in 1989. It is the alcohol industry marketing self-regulator and social responsibility body. It has over 150 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies.
  4. The Portman Group is funded by seventeen member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Campari; C&C Group; Diageo GB; Edrington UK, Heineken UK; Mark Anthony Brands International; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors Beverage Company; Pernod Ricard UK; SHS Drinks; Thatchers Cider and Treasury Wine Estates.
  5. The Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was first published in 1996. For over 25 years the Code has sought to ensure that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable. The Code has helped create an industry that works effectively within the context of a self-regulatory model, while encouraging design, innovation and creativity. This has been done in an effective, responsive and inexpensive way.
  6. Effectively – over 170 products have been amended or removed from the market. Many hundreds more have been helped to adhere to the Code before appearing on shelves through the support of the Advisory Service.
  7. Responsively – there have been five updates to the Code over 25 years responding to changes in public attitudes and expanding its reach; all without recourse to Government or Parliamentary time.
  8. Inexpensively – the 15 leading members of the industry are currently funding the model for all to be protected at no cost to the public purse.

Press release from MHP Group.

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