By Pat Brazzier

For the second time in 12 months Bacardi-Martini has reduced the alcoholic content of its Bacardi Breezer range in the UK.

In June 2002, following the budget the company reduced the alcoholic content from 5.4% to 5.1%. In February 2003, 70cl bottles of the range's most popular variants, Orange, Pineapple and Wartermelon were introduced with a 5% content. Now the complete Breezer range has been changed to the lower level.

To coincide with the launch of their new 30.0cl cans Diageo has also reduced the alcohol content of both Smirnoff Ice and Smirnoff Black Ice to 5.0%.

Earlier this year the UK Wine & Spirit Association (WSA) said that the effect on sales of the 2002 tax hike on spirit based RTDs was profound.

It therefore included in its 2003 Budget Submission a recommendation that, "RTDs, regardless of their alcoholic origin, should be incorporated into a new category of lower strength products, with duty set in two bands of which the higher is 3.6%-5.0% with a duty level equivalent to that of beer".

However the Chancellor of the Exchequer chose to ignore the Association's recommendations.