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By Catherine Thomas, Head of Regulatory Affairs

We at the Advisory Service are seeing more questions about containers and changes to the Code of Practice and its associated guidance, the sixth edition of which came into force in September 2019.

The latest Code guidance advises that single-serve, non-resealable containers should not be more than 4 units, although mitigating factors for products up to 6 units such as premium status, pricing, and share messaging may be taken into account by the Independent Complaints Panel.

Therefore, in order to avoid the impression of encouraging immoderate consumption, we advise that certain products with a higher ABV may have to work harder to communicate to consumers that it is designed to be shared and/or consumed over multiple sittings.

As part of an evidence-based approach to considering complaints, the Independent Complaints Panel commissioned YouGov to conduct a survey to inform their understanding of the UK public’s perception of alcohol packaging and immoderate drinking.

We thought it would be useful to share the findings of the survey as it informs our advice. The UK public have strong views on alcohol container choices, which shapes how these products are shared and enjoyed.

The results, which are largely consistent with previous surveys conducted in 2016 and 2014, show that of the 2,010 adults surveyed across the UK the public believe:

  • Larger products with higher ABVs are designed to be decanted into a glass and shared and / or resealed and consumed over multiple sittings.

  • Smaller products with lower ABVs are designed to be consumed straight from the container by one person in one sitting.
  • However, beers and ciders with an ABV of 8% in a 500ml can are seen as designed to be consumed by one person in one sitting straight from the can.

  • Consumers view larger bottles of spirits, cider and wine are easy to reseal, compared to bottles of beer.

If you are a producer and have are any doubts, we would strongly encourage you to get in touch and to make use of our free Advisory Service at advice@portmangroup.org.uk