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Public Health Minister Jane Ellison congratulates drinks industry on the success of the ‘Billion Unit Reduction Pledge’


Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has congratulated the drinks industry on its success in removing 1.3 billion units of alcohol from the UK market at an event in Parliament last night. Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, in partnership with the British Beer & Pub Association and the Portman Group, the event marked the successful initiative which is part of the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal.

To show the range of innovative products now available, British Beer & Pub Association members provided a selection of great-tasting, lower-strength alcohol beers, including Harveys R, Guinness Mid-Strength, Fosters Radler, Adnams Sole Star, Manns Brown Ale, Hook Norton Mild, Carling Zest, Carlsberg Citrus and Carlsberg Blackcurrant.

No-alcohol beers, Becks Blue, Cobra 0% and San Miguel 0% were also showcased at the event, alongside some of the lower-strength house wines which are available from leading pub company, Punch Taverns.

Jane Ellison, in congratulating the industry on its success in removing 1.3 billion units from the market, in particular paid tribute to the brewing industry which removed 1.2 billion units alone.

The Public Health Minister said:

“It’s great that the British Beer & Pub Association has made progress by removing over a billion units of alcohol from the market over two years. And by promoting house wine at a lower ABV of 12.5% as standard, a healthier option is becoming more popular, and we are helping people who want to reduce their alcohol intake whilst still enjoying a drink.”

Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, reminded guests of the importance of beer and pubs in our society and how well the industry is working in with public health in mind.

David Paterson of Heineken UK, and Chairman of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, spoke on market insight into consumer demand for lower-alcohol beers, and Henry Ashworth, CEO of the Portman Group highlighted Unit Reduction and its success as part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal.

Notes to editors:

The full responsibility deal pledge can be accessed here.

A related infographic, “the natural choice” can be accessed here.

Portman Group infographics can be found here.

Case studies on lower strength products:

Punch Taverns
Punch Taverns owns over 3,500 tenanted and leased pubs in the UK and has continued its efforts to promote lower-alcohol options within its product portfolio, to its tenants.

The non-alcoholic Becks Blue has been supported by Punch with regular promotions and is now the sixth highest selling packaged beer brand in the Punch estate. The lower-alcohol Fosters Radler (2% ABV) will be listed in 2015 and will receive significant investment in order to promote the brand to Punch tenants.

In February 2015 Punch launched its first non-alcoholic cider in Kopparberg Mixed Fruit Alcohol Free, receiving regular support and promotions to establish the brand within the Punch Estate. 15% of the Punch wine list is now under 12% ABV, and its average wine ABV is 12.7%.

Punch has also introduced a number of lower ABV brands to its flavoured shots range, all at 15% ABV rather than 30% or higher for other spirits used as shots.

Marstons owns 1,800 pubs, 500 of which are managed and the rest leased or tenanted.

In the Marstons managed estate, house wines are now 11% ABV which is 1.5% to 2% lower than the wines they replaced. Since their introduction 18 months ago, they have sold over 700,000 bottles. Lower ABV wines continue to sell well across the estate, with 434,000 bottles of Sutter Home White Zinfandel and 70,000 bottles of Black Tower sold last year, 28,000 more bottles than the previous year (both wines are 9.5% ABV).

As well as continuing to promote its own low alcohol and alcohol free beer in Marstons’ pubs, Fosters Radler (2.0% ABV) and Becks Blue (0% ABV) are stocked in all destination pubs and available for taverns and leased pubs to stock as required.

The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.

Enterprise Inns
Enterprise Inns is continuing to play a proactive role supporting the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal, by promoting lower-alcohol drinks across its 5,000-plus pub estate. The response has been impressive, with 82% of the estate purchasing non-alcoholic or lower ABV drinks from the pub company during its last financial year (October 2013-September 2014).

The December 2014/January 2015 issue of the Deals & Ideas magazine issued to all Enterprise publicans, encouraged them to guide some customers to lower-alcohol drinks. The article which looked at how to drive New Year midweek footfall considered drinks that would appeal to people seeking to reduce their post-festive season alcohol consumption; highlighting premium, low or alcohol-free beers, wines and ciders now available from brands such as Becks, Bitburger, Holsten, Banrock Station, and Kopparberg, all of which show strong sales growth.

Heineken and Star Pubs & Bars (part of Heineken)
Star Pubs & Bars is a part of Heineken UK and owns 1,300 leased and tenanted pubs and has been fully involved in the Responsibility Deal including promoting lower-alcohol options in the pub estate.

Star Pubs & Bars has appointed two category partners to offer lower-alcohol options at cheaper prices. Lessees are offered a wide range of house wines which are at the lower end of the ABV scale and are cheaper, so this has become a big driver of what is sold in pubs. The company will be increasing promotion of these products.

Heineken has exceeded the target to remove 100m units of alcohol from the market. By the end of March 2014 the company removed 155.7 million units from the market. This has been achieved by:

  • Reducing the ABV of bottled and canned Strongbow from 5.3% to 5%.
  • Reducing the ABV of John Smith’s from 3.8% to 3.6%.
  • Launching great-tasting, lower and no alcohol options such as Foster's Radler (2% ABV) and a range of Strongbow and Bulmers at lower ABVs than the category average.

The company is continuing to expand choice across its portfolio, so that drinkers are better able to access the right drink for the right occasion and has also introduced a two thirds of a pint ‘schooner’ for its Heineken and Amstel brands.

Mitchells & Butlers plc
Mitchells & Butlers operates around 1,600 managed pubs and has made significant progress in increasing availability of lower-alcohol options across the estate.

M&B has moved its house wine from 13% ABV to 11% ABV. House wines make up 20% of total wine sales. In addition, further lower ABV wines (11% and below) have been added into the portfolio over the past year and upon full integration of the Orchid estate, these businesses will also adopt the M&B wine portfolio. Plans are in place to continue to extend lower ABV wines across wine lists.

In the year to September 2014, sales of reduced strength beers have increased across M&B pubs, restaurants and bars and plans are underway to further enhance the low and non-alcohol ranges within its beer and cider categories.

Admiral Taverns
Admiral Taverns currently operates around 900 leased and tenanted pubs across the UK and has promoted lower-alcohol products to its licensees.

The company has a dedicated lower-alcohol wines page in its Wines and Spirits Guide as well as selling and regularly promoting low strength draught and packaged beers.

In March 2015, as part of the annual price review Admiral reduced the cost of its best-selling 2.8% ABV bottled beer. This will see all pubs that order it benefit from a permanently reduced price throughout the year. Admiral also regularly promotes lower-strength beers through its monthly promotions magazine Agenda.


Responsiblity Deal

For further information contact:

Neil Williams
Head of Media
Tel: 020 7627 9156 / 07974 249 779

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