Complaints against two beers not upheld by Portman Group

Complaints against Heineken’s Birra Moretti Gran Antichi and Leffe Brune Abbey have not been upheld by the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel.

Alcohol Change UK expressed concern that each of the beers, being higher in strength than many and packaged in 75cl bottles, could be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2, which highlights “illegal, irresponsible or immoderate drinking”.

The complainant asked the Panel to consider whether the 75cl bottles were in breach of the Code on the basis that the advisory service’s guidance recommends that “containers which are typically single-serve, and whose contents are typically consumed by one person in one sitting, should not contain more than four units.”

Birra Morretti Gran Antichi is an 8% abv drink containing six units of alcohol, while Leffe Brune Abbey beer, produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev, is 6.5% abv, containing 4.9 units of alcohol.

Reviewing the products in detail, the Panel noted the product’s premium branding and shape was similar to a wine bottle, which would help consumers to understand it is intended to be shared.

The Panel also said, “the back label of the product clearly stated that it contained 6 units, which was helpful to consumers making choices about their drinking”, along with messages such as “Made for Sharing” and “Enjoy Responsibly”, which also feature on the labels. 

The results of a recent YouGov survey reinforced this understanding, with the survey highlighting consumer opinions on different container sizes and how they are designed to be consumed. The larger 75cl bottles of higher-strength beers are considered by consumers to be for sharing, for example. 

On this basis, the Panel believed the products as they are currently sold do not promote irresponsible or immoderate drinking and for this reason the complaints were not upheld.

A spokesperson for Heineken said: “Birra Moretti Grani Antichi is a beer clearly designed to be enjoyed with friends and we are pleased the Portman Group agreed.

“In the spirit of absolute clarity, we have chosen to add an additional sharing message on the bottle – which the Portman Group has welcomed.”

A spokesperson for Budweiser Brewing Group said: “We are committed to labelling and marketing our beers in a socially responsible way which promotes smart drinking. Following the guidance of The Portman Group, we are please to hear that the Panel has confirmed that Leffe Brune aligns to these guidelines.”

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