The UK alcoholic drinks industry has delivered on an alcohol-unit reduction pledge two years early, according to a new report.

The country's Department of Health today said 1.3bn units were taken out of the market between 2011 and 2013. Under the terms of the Public Health Responsibility Deal, signed in 2011, UK alcohol producers agreed to cut the number of alcohol units sold by 1bn by next year.

According to the health department, 1.2bn of the overall reduction came from lower-strength beers. The UK's average abv of beer has fallen from 4.42% in 2011 to 4.14% in 2013, it said.

Today's report was welcomed by industry groups.

"Our brewers have made a fantastic contribution in delivering the pledge in two ways," said Brigid Simmonds, CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association. “They have adjusted the strengths of certain products, and have brought new, innovative, great-tasting lower strength products to consumers."

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association's chief executive, Miles Beale, added: “This is an incredible voluntary effort from the industry, which has vastly exceeded an ambitious target two years ahead of schedule."