A team from Deakin University confirmed suspicions that Aussies aged between 18-25 were unconvinced by the labels.
Forty Deakin students aged between 18 and 25 took part in the study. They were shown images of the warnings, and then alcohol labelling with the warnings present.
They said that the warnings were too small, vague and hard to find, and failed to encourage them to change their boozing nature.
"I don't think it's displayed well enough for it to be a serious warning… because it's so tiny, it doesn't feel like they're caring whether we see the label or not. I don't see it as a legitimate warning," one subject said.
Despite 90% of the subjects being classified as risky drinkers, very few felt the ads directly targeted them.
"I just see that [warning] and think it wouldn't apply to me," another subject said.
Deakin’s Peter Miller, who carried out the study, said the findings made it clear the current, optional warning system, overseen by the industry-funded body DrinkWise, was not working.
Instead, labels need to be more prominent, include images, and contain targeted messages.
They should also highlight the negative effects of low-to-moderate alcohol consumption, such as the links between alcohol and cancer, in order to have a greater impact on alcohol consumption.
"We need to be sure, as consumers, that our government are the people that are looking after our rights. We can't trust the alcohol industry to supply us with information about alcohol. It's as idiotic as doing it with tobacco," Professor Miller said.
DrinkWise chief executive John Scott responded to the criticism by arguing that the warnings play a small role in raising awareness of the dangers of alcohol consumption.
"Education about alcohol consumption is imperative and is at the forefront of what we do. While we recognise that labels alone do not change behaviour, our labels encourage consumers to visit our website for further detail and facts about alcohol," Scott told Fairfax Media.
More from Down Under…
Linfox buys out Lion from BevChain distribution joint-venture
Australian logistics major Linfox has bought out Lion’s 50% stake in BevChain for an undisclosed sum and will take full control of the drinks distribution and warehousing group.
Kirin-owned Lion set up BevChain in 2006 as a joint-venture with Linfox mainly to distribute its beers, wines and ciders across Australia.
But pressure on sales volumes for Lion’s beer brands, which include XXXX Gold, Tooheys, West End and James Boag, has prompted it to find economies, even though the joint-venture has been profitable.
In the 2017 financial year, BevChain reported revenues of A$250m (US$200m), having doubled in size since 2011.
Lion said that leaving the joint venture would allow it to "focus on its core beer business". Its former joint-venture partner will continue to provide warehousing and distribution services for Lion's Australian beer business.
Linfox believes that full ownership will help it attract new customers that currently compete with Lion. These, according to chief executive Annette Carey, may have previously worried about a potential conflict of interest when BevChain was jointly owned.
The logistics firm sees growth in the distribution of water, low-sugar carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, craft beer, mid-strength beer, premium beer and spirits.
“The acquisition is aligned to Linfox’s growth strategy and we will continue to invest in sectors where we see an opportunity for growth,” Carey added.
BevChain, which has a fleet of more than 200 vehicles and employs about 700 staff, has 25 distribution centres across Australia.
It has more than 20 customers, including boutique beer brands such as Stone & Wood, 4 Pines and Vale Brewing; alcoholic spirits such as Campari and Bacardi; winemakers like Brown Brothers and McWilliam's; and retailers such as Coles and Woolworths.
Orora completes 60m bottle manufacturing expansion in Adelaide
Packaging major Orora has completed a substantial expansion to its glass bottle manufacturing plant in northern Adelaide.
The A$42m upgrade in Gawler, which was partly government-funded, will bring a further 26 jobs to the 317-strong workforce and increase capacity by around 60m bottles a year.
The expansion represents one of Orora’s biggest investments in Australia, said chief executive Nigel Garrard.
“The plant is already one of the largest glass manufacturing facilities in the Southern Hemisphere and the A$42 million investment enables us to meet the increasing demand for high-quality glass bottles,” he said.
The expanded facility is expected to result in spending worth an extra A$10m a year in the South Australian supply chain through raw materials, energy, maintenance and labour costs.
A good proportion of the contracts going to South Australian companies, Gerrard added.