A3. Awareness of alcohol units, Calories & other information in the Off-trade

“We will provide simple and consistent information as appropriate in the off-trade (supermarkets and off-licences) as well as other marketing channels (e.g. in-store magazines), to raise awareness of the units, calorie content of alcoholic drinks, NHS lower-risk drinking guidelines, and the health harms associated with exceeding the guidelines.”

The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.

What this pledge sets out to achieve, and why this is important

This pledge will help raise people’s awareness and understanding of units, NHS lower-risk drinking guidelines, the calorie content of alcoholic drinks and the Chief Medical Officer’s advice on drinking during pregnancy.

This pledge commits off-trade retailers to provide unit and health information for consumers in off-trade premises.

The off-trade sells over 60 per cent of the alcohol consumed in the country.  In the last 20 years the affordability of wines increased by 129 per cent and beer 153 per cent in the off-trade.  In recent years more and more people have been drinking alcohol purchased from the off-trade before going out, as a way of saving money.

Improving awareness of alcohol and calorie content of drinks bought in the off-trade can help people make informed choices about when and how much they drink.  It enables people to better measure their alcohol consumption and understand whether this is in line with lower-risk guidelines.

In 2009, 90 per cent of respondents to an annual ONS survey said that they had heard of alcohol units, but only 63 per cent correctly identified that one unit was equivalent to half a pint of beer and only 27 per cent correctly said that an average 125ml glass of wine contained more than one unit.  Additionally, many people are unaware of the full extent of the health harms associated with alcohol misuse.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that drinkers are obtaining approximately 10 per cent of their calorie intake from alcoholic drinks, but the level of awareness of the energy content of these drinks is generally poor.

If advice on alcohol is going to be meaningful, people must be able to put it into the context of their own drinking habits.  This means being able to more easily measure their intake and compare that against medical advice.

Benefits to public health

The NHS guidelines for lower-risk drinking is that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units per day and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units per day.

Providing unit and calorie information is unlikely to improve public health on its own, but it has an important role in supporting other interventions, such as personal advice provided by health professionals.

How you can deliver this pledge

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association has worked with the British Beer and Pub Association and the Drinkaware Trust, using the most up to date consumer research, to develop materials that can be used to raise customer awareness about units across both the on-trade and off-trade.

Your pledge delivery plan

Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to.  They will have up to 500 words to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to.  All delivery plans will be published on this website.

Reporting progress on your pledge

Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year.  For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update.  Further information on the reporting arrangements for each pledge is available.  All annual updates will be published on this website.

We are currently developing a web-based system that will allow partners to complete their delivery plans and annual updates online from 2013.

Partners signed up to this pledge.

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