Pubs attack single-serve sales

05 October, 2007

On-trade body claims supermarkets are fuelling 'problem drinking' increase

Supermarkets should be banned from selling individual bottles and cans of beer and RTDs, according to a trade body representing UK pub operators.

The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers has written to government ministers urging them to take action against multiple grocers which it claims are fuelling an increase in problem drinking.

The ALMR wants a ban on supermarket loss-leading on alcohol, restrictions on the way special offers are promoted in store, and a ban on single-unit sales of ready-to-consume products.

It claims that during the last football World Cup supermarkets effectively lost £36 million by selling alcohol below cost.

Senior off-trade figures reacted to the ALMR's proposals with disbelief.

Mark Gerken, take-home sales boss at S&N UK, said the call for a ban on

single-serve products in supermarkets "doesn't seem to be an informed opinion".

He said: "Single-serve covers bottles of wine, premium packaged ales and a whole range of products that consumers can enjoy responsibly."

Wine & Spirit Trade Association chief executive Jeremy Beadles said: "The ALMR campaign against discounting in the off-trade is based on its claim that low prices are causing increased alcohol ­consumption. In fact, alcohol consumption has fallen by 5 per cent over the past two years.

"What's more, we fail to see the logic of the ALMR calling for ministers to ban the sale of single-serve units and ready-to-consume products in supermarkets," he added.

"Asking the government to stop retailers selling smaller quantities of alcohol doesn't seem like a credible option and we have no idea how you define 'ready to consume'."

The ALMR's attack is the latest in a long line of broadsides from the beleaguered pub trade, which is alarmed at the sales it is losing to the take-home trade.

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