Memorandum by the National Association
of Cider Makers (AL 15)
The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM),
which represents producers of cider and perry in England, Wales
and Northern Ireland, welcomes the opportunity to offer comments
to the Health Select CommitteeAlcohol Enquiry.
The cider industry is characterised by its wide
range of scale of production with two major producers, a handful
of medium scale producers and a very long tail of very small scale
with some perry and cider makers produce less than 70Hl per annum.
The principal raw material for making perry
and cider is pears for perry and apples (both cider apples and
dessert apples) for cider. The source of the pears and apples
for making perry and cider is from a wide variety of orchards,
varying in scale from two to three trees to large orchards in
England and Wales.
Cider and perry is sold throughout the United
Kingdom in a wide range of outlets from major national and regional
pub chains, major multiple retailers to farm shops and local pubs
and local supermarkets.
The share which cider and perry have of the
total UK alcoholic drinks market is only very small at about 7%,
compared to beer (41%), wine (25%), spirits (25%) and RTDs (alcopops)
(1%). Of cider's 7% share of the alcoholic drinks market less
than that 10% is strong white ciders >7.5% ABV, accounting
for only 0.7% of the total alcohol market. Furthermore this product
is declining in sales volumes and is increasingly representing
a reducing share of the alcoholic drinks market.
NACM appreciates the Government's desire to
tackle alcohol misuse and believes that Government should take
appropriate measures to address this issue and introduce policies
that will contribute to the significant reduction in the harm
which arises from misuse.
A review of published reports in the public
domain produced by the UK Government and other bodies, quite clearly
demonstrates that no one alcoholic drink is responsible for alcohol
misusemisuse is caused by certain drinkers who clearly
misuse alcohol and by some under 18s who are clearly breaking
the law. This therefore is not a problem about problem drinks
but about problem drinkers.
For the Government to succeed in bringing about
a cultural change in how alcohol is consumed by the irresponsible
minority then as an urgent priority, it needs to identify and
deal with the real causes of alcohol misuse (and indeed substance
abuse in general). It is misplaced to focus on the availability
and affordability (price and promotion) of alcohol as the sole
and root cause of misuse. The real drivers behind harmful drinking,
binge drinking behavior and under 18's alcohol misuse tend to
get overlooked as a consequence. This means adopting or calling
for a combination of long-term measures such as improving education,
awareness campaigns, etc and short-term measures which can also
be effective such as enforcing the legislation that already exists.
NACM acknowledges that Government has committed
resources to initiatives in this area as indeed has industry.
NACM is a supporter of the Drinkaware Trust and of "Project
10" a £100 million (over five years) industry education
The Minister of State for Public Health, stated
in the Ministerial Foreword to the "Safe, Sensible, SocialConsultation,
on Further Action";
"... retailers and consumers of alcohol
act responsibly and it is the irresponsible minority on which
our efforts should be focused. It is right to consider ways to
tackle irresponsible practices but we must ensure that any measures
do not unduly penalise those consumers who benefit from legitimate
NACM fully endorses the position stated by the
Minister. It is important to bear in mind that the distinction
must be made and maintained to ensure that whatever means are
introduced they are targeted at preventing harmful drinking without
punishing the majority of people who drink responsibly. The industry
is concerned that the introduction of measures that have a broader
impact and go beyond targeting problem drinkers will bring with
it unintended consequences.
To this end industry has a legitimate role to
play in working with Government in reaching solutions.
NACM firmly believes that any policy considerations,
by the Government, to address the specific misuse of alcohol by
problem drinkers, should be:
1. Based on robust evidence (ensuring that studies
are peer reviewed) that is relevant to equivalent environments,
as opposed to deploying convenient data to fit an argument.
2. Given that the majority of the public drink
sensibly and that alcohol is misused by a minority of drinkers,
general population measures such as increasing taxes or other
means of raising prices (curbing promotions, introducing minimum
pricing etc.) are not the appropriate means for tackling misuseit
penalises the majority of sensible drinkers without necessarily
dealing with alcohol misuse. People's lives are already being
negatively impacted by problem drinkers and it seems ironic that
this negative impact should be doubly visited upon them by having
to endure restrictions, inconvenience, and ultimately higher prices,
as set out in the consultation document, to deal with the problem
3. Dealt with, in the many instances of misuse,
by better/more effective enforcement. No new legislation is required.
NACM believes that the Government should focus on maximising the
effective use of existing legislation to target problem drinkers
and that it should avoid using one-size-fits-all measures that
just punish everyone.
4. There is a need to ensure that measures proposed
do not in fact work against the Government's overarching objective
of reducing alcohol related harm. (This point is elaborated further
below but deals particularly with the area of advertising and
Below, NACM would like to comment on some specific
policy areas which have been discussed recently.
A key point that comes across in the School
of Health and Related Research at Sheffield University (ScHARR)
Study on "Price, Promotion and Harm" is that very little
research has been conducted in the UK that throws light on individual
behaviour with regard promotional activity of alcoholic drinks
and harms. A significant amount of the material ScHARR draws on
derives from the USA. A basic sociological critique of the ScHARR
report would immediately pick up on the "situational relevance"
of those studies to the UK. The USA operates different laws regarding
drinking which vary from State to State, there are different sales
tax regimes, the socio-ethnic and psychosocial dynamic in the
USA is not replicated in the UK, etc.
Notwithstanding these short-comings ScHARR has
failed to recognise that promotional activity provides a direct
and more effective way to introduce consumers to new products
and product variants. Restricting promotions will inhibit new
The average strength of cider in the UK has
reduced. There are also plans to introduce into the UK market
significantly lower strength cider but before the product is put
on sale more widely it is being trialed/promoted in a limited
number of retail outlets. However, without the ability to promote
such new products, producers will not be able to introduce them
to the public at large. Of concern is that inevitably the market
will stagnate and will become characterized by lower quality and
Advertising is already strictly regulated. NACM
does not believe that any further restrictions on advertising
will address any particular misuse issues. The consequences of
further restrictions will be to shut down a further avenue for
bringing to market newer and better quality products.
The Sheffield University review failed to provide
compelling evidence that would warrant the Government to introduce
controls on promotions and advertising. The review cited publications
and references making causal links but some of these documents
have not been peer reviewed. NACM reiterates its position that
evidence should be robust.
NACM is fully supportive of improved alcohol
product labeling. The leading members of NACM, accounting for
a significant volume of cider on the market, include on their
cans and bottles:
Sensible drinking messaging.
And by the year end one will start
to see bottles and cans carrying the "pregnancy advice information/logo".
Company websites include the sensible
drinking message and age restrictions to entry.
Monitoring the industry's voluntary labelling
Paragraphs 2.28 to 2.33 of "Safe, Sensible,
SocialConsultation, on Further Action" address the
uptake of the voluntary labelling agreement and disappointment
is expressed in paragraph 2.31 that only 57% of products contained
alcohol unit information and only 3% contained the labelling scheme
information "in its entirety".
It is greatly appreciated that the Department
of Health, Campden and Chorleywood Food RA are working together
with the industry to develop a robust and reliable set of data
on this issue, compared to the misleading numbers reported. Although
not part of the 1998 agreement to incorporate alcohol unit information
on cans and bottles, over 65% of cider by volume is declaring
its unit strength. This was in response to the commitment set
out in the Social Responsibility Standards, published in November
2005, to which the NACM was a signatory.
As mentioned above members of the NACM are introducing
the labelling scheme information on bottles and cans. However,
this can only be done with planned label changes over a period
of time to avoid writing off (and additionally creating its own
waste issues) £ms of packaging materials.
It also has to be recognised that that not all
cans and bottles are the same size and with the smaller containers
there is a practical limitation to including all five components
of the labelling scheme. It is the NACM's understanding from the
various versions of the Memorandum of Understanding, that have
been in circulation that it was acceptable for these smaller containers
to only include three components of the labelling scheme. This
needs to be formally recognised in any follow up "uptake
audit" that will be commissioned.
NACM is aware that the Government is holding
legislation in reserve to secure a greater uptake of the labelling
scheme information (suggested in paragraph 2.33). If this approach
were to be actively pursued it would halt, in its tracks, any
further voluntary introduction of the key components of the labelling
scheme because it would introduce uncertainty as to what would
be specifically required to be included on cans and bottles re
exact wording, use or non use of the pregnancy logo, dimensions
of characters, positioning of statements etc. The industry would
not want to write off two sets of packaging. Furthermore legislation
would recognise the industry's legitimate request for a period
of 12 to 18 months for transition period to permit existing non
complying packaging to be sold through.
NACM was one of the first signatories to the
Portman Group "Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging
and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks" and its members fully
subscribe to it. As others will also indicate the Portman Group
is an excellent example of self regulation that demonstrably works
which has been recognised by the Better Regulation Taskforce and
the International Harm Reduction Association.
The Better Regulation Taskforce described The
Portman Group Code as a good example of a Code that works well,
demonstrating how effective self-regulation can be.
The International Harm Reduction Association
included the latest edition of the Code in its "50 Best Collection
on Alcohol Harm Reduction", published in May 2008 (ref IHRA.)
The Collection contains project reports, documents and research
papers from around the world, chosen by an international panel
of experts for their evidence-base, reasoning, justification and
contribution to alcohol harm reduction.
NACM firmly believes that the Portman Group
Code of Practice is fulfilling, effectively, a valuable self regulatory
role with regard to the way producers package, name and market
their products and as should be fully supported by Government
agencies. This support should include promoting greater awareness
amongst TSOs and Licensing Officers of their role with the code
in ensuring compliance at local level when non-complying products
are included in the Retailer Alert.
Penalising the industry and the general population
is not an appropriate way forward in either seeking to bring about
the desired changes in reducing alcohol harm or dealing with alcohol
misuse (the problem drinkers).
Furthermore before any action is considered
with regard to promotions and advertising it is vital that research
is undertaken that is situationally relevant to the UK to avoid
ill-considered policy proposals: proposals that could undermine
efforts to promote a cultural change if new products are not provided
a route to market.
To restate, there are no problem drinks, only
problem drinkers and therefore measures need to be targeted at
these misusers. Furthermore NACM believes that the panoply of
powers available to the police and local authorities should be
used much more effectively both against individuals who misuse
alcohol and those who willfully seek to break the law in obtaining
alcohol underage, as well as against those retailers who sell