14 November 2019
“I would like to ask the Panel to consider whether the 750ml bottle of Birra Moretti Grani Antichi produced by Heineken is in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f). The Advisory Service’s guidance on Code paragraph 3.2(f) recommends that “containers which are typically single-serve, and whose contents are typically consumed by one person in one sitting, should not contain more than four units”. This 750ml container of an 8% ABV drink contains 6 units of alcohol.”
Alcohol Change UK
Under Code paragraph 3.2(f):
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.
The company’s submission
The company said Birra Moretti Grani Antichi was a super-premium, 750ml bottle of beer, designed for sharing. The company said it had premium cues such as the sleek wine bottle style vessel, 750ml volume and the price of £5, or £6.67 per litre, which was higher than its competitors or regular Birra Moretti. The company said these cues indicated the product was designed to be enjoyed with friends.
The company acknowledged that this message could be clearer. The company stated they had taken action to make it explicitly clear the product was designed to be shared, including action to ensure all bottles leaving their warehouse would contain a sticker on the front label that stated ‘A Bottle Of Beer For Sharing’. The company concluded that they believed this would address the Panel’s concerns.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel agreed that the product’s shape and size were very reminiscent of wine bottle, which in their judgement consumers understood was designed for sharing; they felt this to be a widely held understanding. The Panel also referred to a survey on consumer perceptions of different alcohol containers conducted by YouGov in 2019 at the request of the Panel, which reinforced this cultural assumption. It found that most consumers saw products contained in wine bottles of 750ml, which this packaging resembled, as designed for sharing. Further, consumers felt products packaged in this way were designed to be poured into a glass rather than being drunk straight from the bottle, which reinforced the sharing feel. The Panel considered that products packaged in this way were not seen as for consumption by one person, nor did they need to be consumed in a single sitting.
The Panel highlighted that the back label of the product clearly stated that it contained 6 units which was helpful to consumers in making choices about their consumption. The Panel were of the view that the premium branding, bottle shape and information about alcohol content would help consumers to recognise that the product was intended for sharing.
The Panel discussed the potential for an additional sticker which would read ‘a bottle of beer for sharing’. The Panel welcomed the offer by the producer to make this change but confirmed that they were deliberating only on the product as the complainant saw it, without the sticker.
The Panel concluded that the product as it was currently sold did not promote irresponsible or immoderate alcoholic consumption and did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(f),
Action by Company
No action required.