A complaint against Yonder pink lemonade beer has been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP), after a member of the public complained their 13-year-old daughter had asked them to buy it in a shop. The full decision can be read here.

The complaint said: “This afternoon my 13 year old daughter chose a can of drink from the chiller cabinet at Gloucester Services northbound service station…She gave it to me, I bought it and gave it back to her to drink. When she opened the can, thankfully she thought it smelt a bit odd so asked me about it, it was only then I realised it was alcohol.”

The Panel ruled that the product did not communicate its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity under Code Rule 3.1. However, the Panel did not rule that the product had particular appeal to under-18s under Code Rule 3.2(h). The Panel assessed the packaging and noted the presentation of the soft drink term ‘Pink Lemonade’ in large prominent bubble writing on the front label.

The Panel also noted that while the product’s ABV was included on the front of the label, its presentation was far less prominent, with ‘Pink Lemonade’ the dominant theme of the label. The Panel discussed the yellow and pink gradient colours which created a further link to pink lemonade, as yellow and pink were colours typically associated with non-alcoholic lemonade, further enhancing the drink’s link to a soft drink.

The Panel then assessed the back label and noted the inclusion of some positive alcohol cues. However, the Panel also noted that text on the back label referred to ‘citrus juice’, ‘adult version of a childhood favourite’, ‘sweetness and acidity’ and ‘rose water and blackcurrant juice’. The Panel considered that the language used on the packaging primarily focused on the drink’s fruit flavours.

When assessing the overall impression conveyed by the product packaging the Panel considered it was likely to cause confusion for consumers when assessing the drink’s alcoholic nature, which additionally in this case had been evidenced by the complainant. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the drink’s packaging did not communicate its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity and upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.1.

The company has agreed to make amends to the product packaging to bring it in line with the Code.

Rachel Childs, Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) said: “It’s vital that producers take care to communicate the alcoholic nature of their products, as this is a pertinent example of the confusion that can be caused otherwise. In this case, it’s really positive that the producer is willing to work with the Portman Group Advisory service to make the necessary amendments to the packaging to bring it in line with the Code.”