• New guidance for hard seltzers and Cannabidiol (CBD) has been published by the Portman Group after a 10% rise in producers requesting advice within these categories
  • Responsible marketing is of vital importance to these products to ensure continued category growth and innovation
  • This trend is reflected in the new 2021 Portman Group report, which highlights 25 years of a self-regulatory framework that has proven to consistently deliver efficient regulation

London, 8 December: The growing trend for alcoholic products aimed at health-conscious consumers is a challenge for producers to ensure that they are not making health claims about alcohol. This is particularly true of newer categories that include hard seltzers and Cannabidiol (CBD) products.

The report 25 Years of Responsible Alcohol Regulation; a Spotlight on 2021 highlights how the Portman Group, the self-regulator and social responsibility body for alcohol marketing in the UK, has developed new guidance specifically for hard seltzers – ready-to-drink alcohol products based on flavoured mineral water – and alcoholic drinks containing CBD after a 10% increase in producers requesting advice in those specific categories.

Currently celebrating its 25th year, the Portman Group’s Code outlines key rules that must be followed in relation to the naming, packaging, and promotion of alcoholic drinks and works in tandem with the rules set out by other regulatory bodies such as the Advertising Standards Authority and Ofcom. The new guidance, included within the Naming and Packaging Code, states that alcohol products must not suggest that they have therapeutic qualities, can enhance physical or mental capabilities or change mood or behaviour.

Of particular relevance to hard seltzers, it is a fundamental requirement of the Code that a product’s alcoholic nature is communicated with absolute clarity and it’s therefore recommended that alcohol by volume (ABV) and references to ‘alcohol’ or the word ‘alcoholic’ is included on the front of the packaging as best practice and to reduce the risk of consumer confusion.

And while the Code recognises that CBD is not the same as cannabis, words and images associated with recreational cannabis need to be avoided to prevent an association with illicit drugs. It’s also noted that the law on the use of CBD in food and drink products is complex and producers are advised to seek legal advice before launching to market.

Portman Group CEO, Matt Lambert, said: “These products represent a growing category and are often promoted as a health-conscious choice in other countries, but under UK law and the Portman Group’s Code of Practise, this descriptor can create problems.  The guidance aims to help producers navigate the responsible marketing standards in the UK and ensure new products are launched and marketed responsibly.

“This is why The Code is, and continues to be, so important.  It has helped create an industry that works effectively within the context of a self-regulatory model, while encouraging design, innovation and creativity. We are extremely proud that this has been done in an effective, responsive, and cost-effective way.”

In addition to the new guidelines and trends, the report details how the self-regulatory framework has proven to consistently deliver efficient regulation and protect under-18s and vulnerable consumers from irresponsible alcohol marketing. It also includes how the Code is put into practise by the Independent Complaints Panel, who presided over the 16 cases presented this year, and the resulting decisions.


Download the full report here.