The Portman Group has launched the first industry-wide guidance for low/no producers covering responsible packaging and marketing.

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “As evidenced by our research, alcohol alternatives have seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, and the Portman Group has responded by creating new marketing principles to help producers market these products responsibly.”

Named the Alcohol Alternatives Guidance, the Portman Group defines alcohol alternatives as drinks with an abv of 0.5% or below which may have reference to the absence of alcohol on the product and in its marketing. The drinks may also share similarities with alcoholic drinks in terms of branding and packaging. 

In light of this, the group recommends that all producers whose drinks fall under this definition make it clear to consumers that said drinks are at or below the threshold considered to be an alcoholic drink. 

To ensure responsible marketing in the low/no sector, the guidance advises that producers take steps to ensure the branding of alcohol alternatives has no particular appeal to under-18s. It also suggests that marketing does not depict people who are or who appear to be under 25.

Elsewhere, it recommends against referencing alcohol alternatives being consumed during pregnancy, or linking alcohol to any form or social or sexual success. 

Public health minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom, welcomed the guidance: “I hope this guidance will support producers in increasing availability and visibility of alcohol alternatives for those consumers who want to moderate their alcohol consumption and improve their health.”

The guidance comes one year after the Portman Group called on the government to launch a consultation on low/no labelling so as to create more consistency in the largely unregulated category. A consultation was then launched in September 2023. 

Alongside the newly released guidance, the Portman Group’s advisory service will now offer free advice to producers launching low/no products.