Trade hits back at discount criticisms

Supermarkets should not be blamed for binge drinking, conference hears

Off-trade pricing should not be blamed for binge drinking, key speakers told guests at the Responsible Drinks Retailing conference on March 20.

At the event - organised by OLN and sister paper the Morning Advertiser - Tesco BWS boss Dan Jago defended price promotions on alcohol in supermarkets after criticism led by MP John Grogan and major on-trade operators.

Jago said that "it is clear to us retailers that the price of alcohol isn't directly responsible" for binge drinking.

He added criticism of the off-trade had, in part, been a way of shielding the on-trade from the threat of cheaper rivals in the take-home trade.

Jago said most alcohol purchases in supermarkets "are made by families and stored then consumed over a period of time ".

Multiple off-trade retailers were also supported by Adrian McKeon, managing director of Beam Global in the UK, who called for a more united industry front against binge drinking.

"It's much wider than just Tesco's price points," McKeon said. "We need to look at ways to change consumer behaviour to bring about the same sort of societal change that we've seen with things like smoking and seat belts."

Grogan's early day motion calling for an end to deep drink discounting in supermarkets had attracted 178 MPs' signatures as OLN went to press.

Diageo, meanwhile, told the conference it is to roll out two responsible drinking ads nationally from May.

Corporate relations director Vicki Nobles said that working with major retailers to promote sensible drinking messages at point-of-purchase was "something we'll be looking to do more of this year". The producer ran a pilot with shelf-talkers and Tesco TV before Christmas.

Diageo has also said trials of a spirits stand that tips off shop staff when shoppers picks up a bottle have been successful. The stand allows shoppers to handle bottles, but makes the noise of a bottle of tonic being opened if one is picked up.