Brewers keeping it local key in drink abuse battle

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcoholism Drinking culture Alcohol abuse

European brewers claim they are playing a major role in pushing responsible drinking initiatives in the bloc through localised commitments to the EU Alcohol and Health Forum.

Speaking today from Brussels, Alberto da Ponte, who heads trade group, the Brewers of Europe, announced findings from an interim report on beer makers’ work within the forum. The trade group claims that over a third of industry-wide commitments promoted by the forum have come from brewers.

The issue of consumption is becoming an increasing concern to governments and consumers as fatality rates linked to alcohol continue to rise.

With the industry keen to work with the government to maintain some form of self regulation within its operations, schemes like the Alcohol and Health forum, established back in 2007, hope to bridge the demands of both industry and society.

Commission view

In a joint statement with the Brewers of Europe, EU health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said the brewer commitments were a welcome development in combating alcohol abuse, but more work would be needed from drink makers.

“This forum will serve as a test to show how serious the signs we get from some economic operators are to be taken in the long run, and how strong the commitment of alcohol producers, retailers, caterers and advertisers towards reducing alcohol-related harm really is,” ​she stated. “I am following the process closely and I will base further initiatives, if any, on the results produced by the Forum.”

Local pledges

The Brewers of Europe claims that with 36 of the 101 commitments initiated by the forum coming either from itself or multinationals like Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken, SAB Miller and Carlsberg, its commitments are strong.

Key to the commitments, says da Ponte, is a more local focus on promoting responsible drinking through various national trade associations.

The trade group says that this has led to many initiatives such as addressing binge drink concerns specific to Finland, tackling underage drinking in a number of Western and central European markets and tightening self regulation in the Czech Republic.

“By building partnerships, by working on the ground and by developing local actions, we will make rapid progress,” ​stated da Ponte. “The key to our success is a voluntary approach at the local level, rather than a pan-European ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

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