Popping alcopop popularity

The Alcohol Reform Bill aims at lopping the lapping of loaded lolly water.

Alcopops (RTD) – high sugar cordial type drinks with alcohol added – are believed to be a major contributor to drunkenness and binge drinking, especially amongst young women. They are being targeted in changes proposed in the Alcohol Reform Bill.

Facts from Independent Liquor and the Law Commission report the reforms are based on:

  • The most common drinkers of RTDs were 14 to 24-year-olds, particularly women.
  • RTDs made up 12% of the total alcohol market in New Zealand by volume.
  • Up to 180 million alcopops were sold in New Zealand each year
  • More than half of RTDs sold had an alcohol content of 6% or more
  • The majority of RTD sales were in off-licence stores, such as convenience stores, supermarkets and bottle shops.

I’ve checked an online bottle shop.

  • Alcohol content 5%, 7%, 8%
  • Can and bottle sizes 250ml, 330ml and 2 litre cartons
  • Most are between $2 and $3 dollars each (cartons $23-25).
  • A rough calculation – this is a half billion dollar per year industry

The Alcohol Reform Bill would ban off-licence stores from selling RTDs with more than 6% alcohol content and more than 1.5 standard drinks per container.

It is claimed this could significantly reduce sales. It seems likely it would at least force a change to lower alcohol content sales.

Obviously this will concern some in the liquor industry. Executives have met with Justice Minister Judith Collins and “urged her to quash a law change that will ban the sale of high-strength alcopops in bottle stores.”

Liquor industry fights RTD Bill

Managing directors from heavyweight drinks companies Bacardi, Jim Beam, Brown-Forman and Diageo were invited to the Beehive on Monday to discuss the alcohol reforms due to return to Parliament later this month.

They have told Mrs Collins policy that restricted the sale of ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages unfairly targeted one part of the industry and threatened to breach international trade rules.

Distilled Spirits Association chief Thomas Chin said the industry was strongly opposed to the amendment, evident in the fact that senior members of four corporates had met the Minister.

“You can well imagine what’s at stake for their respective businesses. We’re talking about the highest-ranking officers – it demonstrates how serious the policy threat is to the businesses.”

Alcopops are often linked to what is called ‘preloading’ – getting pissed cheaply before going out clubbing.

The proposed restrictions will be opposed by some who think people should be free to choose for themselves what they drink, and how blotto they get.

The Law Commission (and I suspect a lot of MPs) think the change will help address a major alcohol problem.

This doesn’t affect me. I don’t drink RTDs, and rarely have.

What do the consumers think?