Drinkaware shares guidance for retail staff on alcohol-free and lower strength drinks 

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With many people choosing not to drink this month, Alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware said shop staff can play a role in supporting those drinkers who wish to cut down their alcohol intake.

Noting that the boom in alcohol-free and lower strength drinks may help in this, the charity has shared a guidance to help retail staff provide advice to customers on what the category is all about.

The guidance highlights how the definitions and terminology can be confusing for staff and customers alike, as revealed in the charity’s 2021 Monitor report when only 5.1 per cent of over 9,000 participants were able to correctly identify what the labels of ‘alcohol-free’ and ‘low strength’ drinks mean in terms of ABV.

For drinks produced in the UK, low alcohol drinks refer to those which have an ABV of between 0.05 and 1.2 per cent, the advice notes. Drinks classified as alcohol-free may contain a small amount of alcohol but only at a strength of 0.05 per cent or less.

Reduced or lower strength drinks have an alcohol content lower than the average strength of a particular type of drink – wine with an ABV strength of 5.5%, is a reduced alcohol wine, as opposed to a low alcohol wine.

“There is a wider range of alcohol-free or lower strength drinks available in the off-trade than ever before, something that can directly appeal to customers looking to cut down in 2022,” Adam Jones, Drinkaware’s business development and partnerships director, commented.

“We know from our research, however, that the terminology around alcohol-free and lower strength drinks isn’t always well understood. That is just one place where Drinkaware’s guidance can help.”

The charity recommends using low alcohol, lower strength or alcohol-free descriptions to help consumers make the most informed decisions, instead of using the terms low and no together, as they represent quite different products.

The guidance can be seen here.