How you can deliver this pledge
Companies can implement this pledge in a number of ways depending upon their business model and the legislative and practical opportunities available to them. Examples of action that could be taken to contribute to the target unit reduction include:
- Producers of existing products could alter their production methods to reduce the alcohol content of their drinks. Even small changes of 0.1% abv in a product that sells millions of units per annum can achieve significant reductions in terms of annual consumption. Modern production methods and changes in consumer tastes can also help drive product alterations, for example the earlier harvesting of grapes or use of different yeasts during fermentation can produce reductions in alcohol content without noticably altering flavour and taste profiles.
- Industry reports there is also a growing market in the UK for lower alcohol products, be it beers that are taking advantage of the new tax rates for those with less than 2.8% abv or the growth in mid-strength “lighter” wine products (around 5.5%abv). Improving availability, better marketing and promotion of these products and the development of new products in this sector is intended to increase their market share (in the UK) at the expense of higher alcohol products, helping to achieve an overall reduction in the number of units sold without reducing the overall sale of Stock Keeping Units (SKUs).
- Companies that retail alcoholic drinks can play a part by helping to ensure that lower alcohol products receive greater marketing and promotion in store. This doesn’t have to mean the promotion of specially produced lower-alcohol products (such as the 2% beers or 5.5% wine products) it could also take the form of ensuring that house wines or those offered with meal deals are no more than 12% abv instead of 13% or 14%, that promotions of premium lager (5%abv +) are matched by promotions or regular lagers (circa 3%) or that promotions that include alcoholic drinks have an equivalent soft drink option. It might also mean choosing lower strength products (such as 12% abv over 13% abv wines) when deciding what products to stock or order.
- On-trade premises and producers could also offer and promote smaller measures, such as the new 2/3 pint “schooner” glass, or reduce the promotion of larger measures, such as the 250ml wine serving, make 175ml glasses the default serving size and increase use of the 125ml servings. They might also change the default serving size or product container for higher strength products such as premium lagers by means such as incorporating a rule not to serve more than the lower-risk guidelines for regular drinking (3 units) in a single serving.
Rather than be prescriptive in the ways that businesses can support this pledge, companies should think about how they produce and sell products and consider whether small changes would help contribute to a much larger impact without damaging the commercial viability of their business.
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