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Responsible drinking activations around the world - The IARD Digest - July 2019

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Once a month, the drinks industry-funded International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, which covers alcohol policies worldwide, reviews some of the industry activities designed to promote a more responsible role for alcohol in society. Here's a look at what's been going on in recent weeks.

Every month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at responsible drinking activities from around the world

Every month, the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking looks at responsible drinking activities from around the world

In the Caribbean, the West Indies Rum & Spirit Association and the Barbados Alcohol Industry Association have launched a new labelling initiative, supporting governments' efforts to prevent noncommunicable diseases. The associations' members are introducing new health-warning labels for their bottles and cans, moving beyond the current "drink responsibly" label with three new pictograms warning against drink-driving, consumption during pregnancy, and underage drinking. Barbados Minister of Foreign Trade Sandra Husbands said the initiative was a testimony to producers' commitment to public health, and illustrated that the private and public sectors could work closely together to achieve common goals.

Mount Gay Distilleries MD Raphael Grisoni said the stronger warnings "will impact our sales, but I don't mind, because I don't want consumers to be intoxicated by heavy doses of any alcoholic products".

"It is not the aim of our company. Maybe it is shocking for some thinking, 'how could it be that a rum producer is taking this position?' It is all about sustainability. You still want to have a generation enjoying your product responsibly."

Meanwhile, the Italian National Wine Council (Convi) has announced plans to increase educational efforts at the other end the age spectrum, by extending its 'Drinking Awareness through Education and Culture' programme to the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Piacenza and the Bocconi University of Milan. The programme teaches students that wine and winemaking is integral to Italian identity and history, but also warns about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

The initiative was first launched in a high school in Lombardy in 2015, spreading to middle schools in Varese and secondary schools in Tuscany in 2018. It has since been picked up by secondary schools, universities, and cultural groups nationwide. Last year, Convi director Pia Donati Belucchi received the Porto Venere Donna Award for her efforts in "popularis[ing] a new wine culture that spreads from the young".

In Hungary, Heineken has launched a new agricultural initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, providing financial support to increase the hop-growing territory around a disadvantaged region in the south-west. Small growers in Kastélyosdombó in Somogy County will be able to claim a subsidy from the ministry to help them with startup and operating costs, while Heineken completes the support by guaranteeing to buy all hops produced under the programme.

Minister of Agriculture István Nagy believes the scheme will benefit the local economy and "decrease the Hungarian food industry's dependence on imports and to help agriculture stand on several feet." Heineken Hungária "is determined to constantly increase the usage of domestic produce while brewing beer", said MD Geert Swaanenburg. "With this, we wish to be as helpful to domestic agriculture as possible."

On the other side of the world, Cervecería Paraguaya (Cervepar) recently announced a substantial reduction in its beer prices, in an attempt to revive the national economy and "dynamise" the alcohol sector. Cervepar GM Roberto Araujo said the reductions will apply to the most popular domestic and imported brands, with the prices of some products dropping back to 2009 levels. The price of a bottle of Brahma beer will drop from PYG8,000 (US$1.31) to PYG5,500.

"We feel a commitment to our consumers and to the country that prompts us to take bold and innovative measures to tackle the current economic downturn," Araujo told local press.

Rival Japanese brewers have announced plans to jointly reduce the aluminium content in their beer cans, leading to significant cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. The two largest Japanese beer producers, Sapporo and Suntory, are already introducing the thinner cans into the market.

Sapporo has developed a method for producing can lids that is 10% more efficient, is using the lightest aluminium cans in Japan for its drinks, and plans to use lighter aluminium packaging for most of its brands by 2022. Suntory, meanwhile, has already started to use lighter beer bottle caps and Asahi is reportedly exploring the possibility of using the lighter caps. Kirin Brewery is taking separate steps to reduce can weight, although it may join the other brewers in using the thinner lids.

In neighbouring South Korea, Oriental Brewery (OB) is promoting the government's tough new drink-driving law. The National Assembly passed amendments to the Road Traffic Act at the end of 2018 that reduced the legal BAC limit from 0.5 mg/ml to 0.3 mg/ml. The amendments also introduce stricter penalties for drink-driving offences.

OB has launched a drink-driving prevention campaign to highlight the new regulations, and is rewarding police officers for being active in drink-driving prevention. The campaign builds on a Memorandum of Understanding that the brewer signed with South Korea's Road Traffic Authority in 2016, to launch a nationwide drink-driving prevention campaign.

Finally, in Ghana, Guinness signed a similar MoU with the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), to jointly produce a drink-driving education module that will be incorporated into the DVLA's learning curriculum for trainee drivers. The e-learning tool involves a learning module and a driving game, as well as a programme to record data on usage.

A Ministry of Transport spokesperson urged other producers to follow Guinness Ghana Breweries' example, which had been designed to benefit society and the economy by reducing the country's traffic death toll.

For further details on The IARD, click here.


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