Heinekens chief is calling on health bodies to work with the industry

Heineken's chief is calling on health bodies to work with the industry

Heineken's CEO has urged health lobbyists and regulators to drop their “mistrust” of the drinks industry and work with brands to persuade consumers that moderate drinking is “cool”.

Writing on the Huffington Post late last week, Jean-François van Boxmeer bemoaned the attitude of some groups and authorities to producers. “We are meeting with opposition and mistrust with advertising authorities, health lobbies and regulators,” he wrote.

“They do not believe that brands can be genuine and trustworthy in promoting limited use of their products. Unless this opposition dissolves, our ambition to tackle alcohol abuse and make moderation cool will be restrained.”

A number of high-profile UK health bodies quit the Government's responsibility deal last year, after the coalition dropped its plans for a minimum unit price.

Van Boxmeer said there is a need to “find ways to encourage people to drink differently and, in some instances, that means less”. 

He called for current laws to be enforced and retailers to “abandon deep discounting of alcohol or below cost selling”. In the UK, a ban on sales below the cost of duty plus VAT is due to take effect on Sunday (6 April). 

However, in the article, the Heineken chief claimed that atttitudes to beer among young drinkers is changing. “From Mumbai to Manchester and from Los Angeles to Lagos, today's young adults have a different set of expectations of the role beer plays in the time they spend with friends," he wrote. "They want to be in greater control of their actions and enjoy experiences.”

He concluded: “The door is ajar for a new type of conversation on beer and alcohol. What gives us hope is that consumers want it. Will all interested groups embrace it? The answer has to be yes.”