Portman Group raps Bulmers over packaging of flavoured schnapps

Bulmers is being forced to change the packaging of its fruit-flavoured schnapps drink Sidekick, after complaints to the Portman Group were upheld.

The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel cleared Sidekick of having a predominantly under-age appeal, but ruled that the packaging did not clearly communicate the alcoholic nature of the product.

Jean Coussins, director of the Portman Group – which administers the drinks industry’s voluntary code of practice on naming, packaging and merchandising – says: “The industry needs to remain focused on the importance of clear labelling. There is nothing wrong with innovation by drinks producers, as long as some basic principles of social responsibility are observed.”

Tesco and Budgens were also singled out for criticism over infringements of the code. Tesco was slammed for two special promotions, which packaged mini spirits bottles with sweets (tequila with jelly worms and vodka with jellybeans). Kingston-upon-Thames Trading Standards officers had complained that, because sweets “are predominantly associated with children rather than adults”, both products were likely to encourage under-age purchase. The complaints committee agreed. A Portman Group spokesman said this was the second year running that a major supermarket chain had been criticised for packaging mini spirits bottles with sweets. Tesco has stopped production of both packs.

Budgens was criticised for displaying Bulmers’ Sidekick alongside the till in one of its stores, in a space normally associated with confectionery displays. The Portman Group accepted the store group’s claim that it was a genuine mistake, however.

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