Supermarkets are blatantly failing to take responsibility for fostering binge drinking and anti-social behaviour, delegates at a gathering of leading catering operators heard.
While the on-trade is working hard to combat the problem, the off-trade is burying its head in the sand, claimed James Horler, chief executive of tapas bar and restaurant chain, La Tasca.
“Supermarkets are ducking out of their responsibility. They are pushing through volumes at low prices,” Horler told delegates at The Catering Forum last week.
“While we are doing a lot more to take prices upwards, they are still ignoring this issue.”
With government attention firmly on the issue of anti-social
behaviour, pub chains in particular are reviewing their promotional programmes. In May, members of the 32,000-strong British Beer and Pub Association announced they were introducing restrictions on happy hours. But many believe it is unfair for the on-trade to take the full rap for contributing to alcohol-fuelled disorder.
Referring to the government’s plans for pubs and clubs to pay a levy to cover extra policing if their outlet is seen as disorderly, Horler said: “It is not fair the cost of policing should fall on licensees only.”
However, retailers have been quick to respond to the issue of binge drinking. Stores such as Waitrose have introduced shelf barkers with responsible drinking messages and Thresher, Wine Cellar and Bargain Booze are among off-licences being praised for staff training on avoiding under-age sales.
Additionally, the government has warned it may ask national suppliers to pay into a fund for alcohol misuse schemes.
Local retailers could be asked to contribute to council projects addressing booze-related disorder under the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy.
Siân Harrington