Scotland likely to be test site for low alcohol brands

Scotland could soon become a test bed for the launch of large numbers of low alcohol and no alcohol beers, wines and spirits, following last week’s historic agreement between the Scottish Executive and representatives of drinks manufacturers, leading retailers and the on-trade.

The agreement, published on the Scottish Executive website, commits signatories to a range of measures aimed at tackling problems caused by alcohol – including the testing of low alcohol alternatives in the Scottish market in general and the promotion of no alcohol alternatives in the retail sector.

Rachael Robertson, government affairs manager for Diageo GB – which makes Kaliber, currently market leader in the Low Alcohol/No Alcohol sector (LA/NA) and is one of the companies that has signed the agreement – says: “All partners will aim to identify opportunities to pilot low alcohol alternatives in the Scottish market, and this will be taken into consideration for all relevant product test programmes Diageo undertakes in the future.” But she adds: “No decision has yet been made on what these products may be or where they may be piloted.”

Drinks industry insiders say that the agreement could prove to be a further shot in the arm for the LA/NA sector, which has recently seen renewed activity after being stagnant for some years.

According to Mintel, the biggest selling LA/NA brand in 2006 was Diageo’s Kaliber, with 40% of the market, followed by Beck’s on 17% and Clausthaler on 7%.

Industry classifications consider beer and cider with less than 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV) to be no alcohol; between 0.05% and 0.5% ABV they are “de-alcoholised”; and between 0.5% and 1.2% are low alcohol.

Drinks companies, pubs and retailers have also agreed to work with the Scottish Executive and representatives of the voluntary sector to promote a sensible drinking message and to share media and marketing expertise and consumer research. All parties will work with the media to “discourage inappropriate endorsement or legitimisation of inappropriate alcohol consumption”.

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