Industry exceeds units pledge but spirits abv rises

22nd December, 2014 by Amy Hopkins

The UK drinks industry has succeeded in its aim to remove one billion units of alcohol from the market two years ahead of schedule, however the overall abv of spirits continued to increase.

Spirits-bottles-shelf

UK drinks retailers and producers have removed one billion units from the market two years ahead of schedule

According to a report by the Department of Health (DoH), producers and retailers have already delivered on the aim of the voluntary Public Health Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network pledge to reduce one billion units of alcohol sold by the end of 2015.

As part of the project, the government worked with the alcohol industry and partners to create 11 collective pledges and 10 individual pledges to support a culture of responsible drinking.

The DoH report states that the units removal target was in fact reached by the end of 2013, as producers endeavoured to lower the abv of products. Figures show that 1.3 billion were removed through the sale of lower abv drinks.

Beer was the main driver of this reduction, which accounted for 1.2 billion of the 1.3 billion total.

Average abv has decreased in all product categories apart from spirits, where there was a slight increase from 36.85% to 36.92%. Overall the average abv fell from 7.49% to 7.28% between 2011 and 2013.

“This is a fantastic result achieved through the collective efforts of producers, retailers, wholesalers and pub groups, supported by government,” said Henry Ashworth, chief executive of alcohol standards watchdog the Portman Group and chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network.

“We have exceeded a voluntary target to remove one billion units of alcohol from the UK market by growing a new market for lower alcohol drinks.

“This is yet more concrete evidence of what can be achieved when government and industry work in partnership, responding to a growing consumer demand for lower alcohol drinks; further proof that our drinking culture is changing.”

The DoH report states that just over 52 billion units of alcohol were released for consumption in the UK in 2011, and that reducing this by one billion units would represent a 2% drop in consumption.

Companies which have signed up to the project include Asda, Bacardi, Diageo, Marks & Spencer, Pernod Ricard and Tesco.

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