500ml Cans of Tennent’s Super Break Alcohol Responsibility Rules


The packaging of 500ml cans of Tennent’s Super, a 9% ABV beer produced by AB InBev UK, has been found to encourage immoderate consumption after a ruling by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel).

The product packaging was considered under paragraph 3.2(f) (encouraging immoderate consumption) of the Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks. The Panel observed that a 500ml can of Tennent’s Super contains 4.5 units of alcohol – 0.5 and 1.5 units more than men’s and women’s recommended lower risk daily guidelines respectively. Noting that the quality of the product would degrade quickly once the can was opened, the Panel judged that it would be reasonable to expect that the contents would be consumed by one person in one session. In light of this, the Panel concluded that the size of the packaging did encourage immoderate consumption.

The Panel noted that AB InBev, which owns Tennent’s, had already committed to cease production and distribution of 500ml cans of 9% ABV Tennent’s Super by the end of 2014 as part of a collective voluntary commitment under the Government’s Responsibility Deal.

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel Henry Ashworth said:

‘‘It is important that a product’s packaging does not encourage immoderate consumption and we advise all producers to seek advice from the Portman Group if they are in any doubt as to how the rules apply. The Panel noted and welcomed the voluntary commitment AB InBev had previously made to cease production and distribution of the 500ml 9% ABV Tennent’s Super can from the end of 2014.”

The Portman Group, which provides the Secretariat to the Independent Complaints Panel, has issued a Retailer Alert Bulletin (RAB), instructing supermarkets, off-licences, convenience stores and other alcohol retailers not to place orders for 500ml cans of 9% ABV Tennent’s Super after 31 December 2014. The product was brought to the attention of the Panel by independent consultants, Campden BRI, commissioned by the Portman Group to carry out an audit of 500 alcoholic drinks available for purchase in UK supermarkets, off-licences and convenience stores.

The packaging was also considered under paragraph 3.2 (a), which prevents packaging from giving the higher alcoholic strength or intoxicating effect of a beverage undue emphasis. The Panel considered that while the word ‘strong’ featured on the front of the packaging it was not an undue reference to the strength of the beer, but a factual statement designed to communicate that the product was of high strength. It also noted that the message ‘please drink responsibly’ was displayed prominently on the packaging, concluding that the product gave appropriate emphasis to the strength of the drink. The complaint relating to paragraph 3.2(a) of the Code was therefore not upheld.

The Panel's decision in full is available here.


For more information please contact:

Press Office 0207 290 1460/1463 | shanratty@portmangroup.org.uk