The initiative is in response to Tony Blair’s Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy, which warns the trade to voluntarily display a responsible consumption message alongside unit information or face legislation.
Several options are being discussed with companies and The Portman Group hopes to reach an agreement with members before the alcohol strategy is reviewed next year.
It comes as Coors Brewers announced it would become the first major brewer to put a sensible drinking strapline on packaging. Cans of Carling will
feature the message ‘Enjoy Carling. Take it easy’ from later this year.
Coors chief executive Peter Kendall said the alcohol strategy placed a responsibility on suppliers to educate the
minority of people who binge drink. “We hope our new on-pack message, combined with voluntary unit labelling, will help consumers make sensible choices,” he said.
Although most brewers already display unit information, the alcohol strategy said efforts were “patchy” and called for a unified approach.
Stephen Whitehead, director of group corporate affairs at Allied Domecq, supported consistent unit information but said responsible drinking messages could be confusing.
“What does ‘Take it easy’ mean exactly?” he asked. “Any message should support unit labelling and information about recommended levels.”
Paul Stanger, customer marketing director at Scottish Courage Brands, said: “We are very supportive of an industry-wide solution but in the interim we need to act. The government message is do it yourselves or we will do it for you.”