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Portman Group releases label guidance for ‘Alcohol Alternatives’

Published:  17 January, 2024

Alcohol labelling regulators, The Portman Group, has released new guidance for ‘Alcohol Alternative’ products, defined as 0.5% abv or below.

The guidance, unlike Portman’s regulatory remit for alcohol (anything above 0.5% abv) will not be legally enforceable and is instead offered as best practice guidance.

As part of the launch, the group will offer free confidential advice to producers launching products in the category as well as low-cost training to the industry.

The new guidelines stipulate that for products aimed squarely at adults, steps should be taken to ensure that the marketing of alcohol alternatives has no particular appeal to under-18s.

Furthermore, marketing which shows people driving, playing sport, or taking part in risky activities after they’ve consumed an alcohol alternative product should make it clear they have consumed the alcohol alternative, and that the intention is to show a wider range of choice for consumers.

On a precautionary best practice basis, the guidance recommends that marketing does not depict, or reference in copy, an alcohol alternative being consumed during pregnancy.

The guidance also lays out other suggestions for producers, including making clear that the drink is at or below the threshold to be considered an alcoholic drink (0.5% abv) and no images of people who are, or look as if they are, under 25 years of age should be used.

Public health minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom, said: “I welcome the publication of this marketing guidance for alcohol alternatives, and the commitment of producers to market and sell these products responsibly to adult consumers. 

“I hope this guidance will support producers in increasing availability and visibility of alcohol alternatives for those consumers who want to moderate their alcohol consumption and improve their health.”

The guidance comes as new YouGov research commissioned by the Portman Group found that over a third (35%) of alcohol drinkers now consider themselves an occasional or regular drinker of alcohol alternatives – rising to close to half (44%) of 18-24-year-olds. Furthermore, almost a quarter (23%) of UK drinkers have seen their alcohol consumption fall as a result of low and no alcohol products.  

Matt Lambert, CEO, the Portman Group, said: “We very much welcome the endorsement provided by Department for Health and Social Care for the first industry-wide and freely available alcohol alternatives guidance for packaging and marketing. As evidenced by our research, alcohol alternatives have seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, and the Portman Group has responded by creating new marketing principles to help producers market these products responsibly.

“It is clear that consumers are gravitating to alcohol alternatives either as a moderation tool to cut down on their drinking or as part of a healthier lifestyle.

“Our new guidance aims to help producers be clear and transparent in their marketing, ensuring that information is provided to consumers when considering which products to buy.”