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A recent complaint about Budweiser Brewing Group’s (part of AB InBev) product Leffe Brune Abbey was not upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel. A copy of the full decision is available here.

The complainant, Alcohol Change UK, expressed concern that the product could be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f) on illegal, irresponsible or immoderate drinking.

Leffe Brune Abbey was one of the first complaints to be considered under the sixth edition of the Code of Practice, which was accompanied by updated guidance on illegal irresponsible or immoderate consumption.

The Panel wanted to consider additional evidence to attitudes on container sizes and consumption to aid their decision making. YouGov were commissioned to rerun the 2016 survey on consumer opinions on different container sizes and how they are designed to be consumed. The 2019 survey replicated the results of 2016, demonstrating the public’s firm opinion on how to consume different products. The results of the survey can be found here.

Reviewing the product in detail, the Panel noted:

  • The product size was similar to a wine bottle which would help consumers to understand it is intended to be shared.
  • The label on the back of the product included a sharing message, but the product could do more to communicate information to consumers by displaying the message more clearly on what they considered to be a busy label.
  • The results of the YouGov survey reinforced this understanding.

The Panel believed the overall presentation was of a premium product with cues that it was not a single serving. For this reason, the complaint was not upheld under Code paragraph:

  • 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

A Budweiser Brewing Group spokesperson said, “We’re committed to labelling and marketing our beers in a socially responsible way which promotes smart drinking. Following the guidance of The Portman Group, we are pleased to hear that the Panel has confirmed that Leffe Brune aligns to these guidelines.”