Portman Group calls for low-and-no consultationBy Georgie Collins
Alcohol industry regulator the Portman Group has called upon the UK government to do more to encourage the uptake of low-and-no alcohol alternatives.
After a delay of nearly two years, Portman Group is calling on the government to prioritise the launch of the ‘long-awaited’ consultation on low-and-no descriptors in 2023.
The consultation would seek views on updating the terminology around the various ways in which products below 1.2% ABV are marketed, which the organisation said is a key source of confusion for UK-based consumers.
The marketing regulator has warned not to let the positive trend lose momentum after years of growing UK sales and consumer interest in the category, following the market showing ‘potential’ signs of plateauing after rapid growth.
Matt Lambert, Portman Group CEO, 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.”
New YouGov consumer research has revealed that more than a 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.
‘Semi-regular drinkers’ refers to those who either ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ drink low-and-no alcohol products.
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, 17% of those who have tried low-and-no drinks say their alcohol consumption has reduced since first trying them, demonstrating the category’s role in encouraging moderate and responsible drinking.
At the end of 2023, the Portman Group quashed a complaint against pre-mixed cocktail brand Buzzballz.