Alcohol producers are calling for closer relationships with retailers this festive season as the industry continues to be used as a scapegoat for the country's problematic drinking culture.
"We all have to play our part," said Lee Williams, brands marketing manager for Daniel Thwaites Brewery. "We would welcome the idea of brewers and retailers working more closely together on this."
His comments came as the brewer announced this week that it is removing the 8.5% super-strength lager, Stein Super, from its portfolio as part of its commitment to being a responsible brewer. Thwaites said the move was partly in recognition of charities such as Thames Reach Bondway, which works closely with homeless people, who have stereotypically been associated with super-strength beers.
Williams said the brewer had worked hard to promote itself as responsible, but the brand - which equates to 4.2 units of alcohol per can - was a sore spot in the brewer's portfolio.
The issue of promoting responsible drinking traditionally reaches its peak around Christmas as retail price wars on alcohol escalate to drive footfall.
Asda is the first retailer to advertise its Christmas booze price cuts this year, with prices of various spirits - including Jim Beam and Absolut Vodka - reduced to £13 a bottle in a deal running from the end of October through to the beginning of January 2007.
Others have picked up the pace with alcohol price reductions over the past two weeks, but so far these deals are short term, generally lasting only a fortnight.
The price cuts coincide with health secretary Patricia Hewitt's demands that hefty tax increases be applied to alcohol in the off-trade to reduce binge and underage drinking.