Less is more, UK wine consumers told

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage, European union

Wine industry leaders in the UK are attempting to make moderate
wine consumption fashionable as part of a new responsible drinking
plan spearheaded by the European Commission.

The UK scheme, which has adopted a suitably exotic French slogan, 'Arts de Vivre', will play on growing ideas about how moderate wine consumption can form part of a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle. Concerns over Britain's binge-drinking culture have grown recently amid fears for young adults' long-term health and the financial strain such a lifestyle puts on the health service. Wine has become a target due to its rapid market growth. The UK wine scheme was launched at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association's (WSTA) spring conference this week, and is linked to the European Commission's Wine Plan for Responsible Consumption. "Wine, as with all alcohol, if consumed in moderation can be part of a perfectly healthy lifestyle,"​ said Jeremy Beadles, WSTA chief executive. He said the EU Wine Plan "provides building blocks which will be put to use in different ways in different countries, to reflect both the varying alcohol culture across Europe".​ Various 'ambassadors', including journalists, winemakers and retailers, are set to push the 'Arts de Vivre' message in Britain, and a new Wine Information Council has been launched to provide research and stats to the industry. Alcohol is the third biggest cause of premature death and illness in the EU, responsible for 195,000 deaths every year, and cost the bloc €125bn in 2003, the European Commission revealed in a recent report. 'Positive' messages advising consumers to drink responsibly were increasingly becoming the norm in the EU​, Helmut Wagner, senior advisor at the European Forum for Responsible Drinking​ (EFRD), told BeverageDaily.com​ recently. In the UK, where binge-drinking is particular problem, drinks makers have pushed awareness of its responsible drinking website, Drinkaware, which it claims received 50,000 hits per day. Health authorities last October also launched a £4m alcohol​ awareness campaign, entitled 'Know Your Limits', intended to encourage 16-24-year-olds to drink responsibly. Some are calling for a tougher approach. A second vote on whether warnings for pregnant women should be applied to all alcoholic drinks in the UK is set to take place in the country's upper legislative chamber, the House of Lords, on 20 April. The 'Alcohol Labelling Bill' says drinks firms should print the following on labels: "Government warning: drinking alcoholic beverages during pregnancy even in small quantities can have serious consequences for the health of the baby."​ Pernod Ricard, the world's second largest alcoholic drinks group, recently volunteered to add pregnancy warning labels on all its drinks across Europe. The warning is already a legal requirement in France.

Related topics: Markets, Beer, Wine, Spirits, Cider

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