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    Portman Group urges government to support low, no-alcohol segment

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    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 and speed-up 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 per cent ABV are marketed, which the organisation said is a key source of confusion for UK-based consumers. 

    Matt Lambert, Portman Group CEO, said that 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,” Lambert said. 

    A new YouGov consumer research has reportedly revealed that more than a quarter (29 per cent) of alcohol drinkers now also ‘semi-regularly’ drink alcohol alternatives, compared to almost a third (32 per cent) in 2021 and a quarter (25 per cent) in 2020. 

    ‘Semi-regular drinkers’ refers to those who either ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ drink low-and-no alcohol products. 

    Furthermore, 17 per cent 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, reports stated. 

    It comes amid Waitrose’s claim that sales of low alcohol drinks at the supermarket was up by a third (+31 per cent) in the past week, with wine sales up by 46 per cent, doubling figures from 2020. Spirits and beers have also enjoyed a boost at +31 per cent and +25 per cent respectively. 

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