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Retail Drinks refutes FARE’s accusations of a ‘predatory’ takeaway alcohol industry

February 15, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Last week a number of media organisations reported on a story from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) regarding growth in takeaway alcohol sales in 2020.

FARE lamented that December 2020 was the highest month in history for alcohol retailer turnover in December with sales of close to $2 billion and blamed ‘predatory’ marketing tactics by the alcohol industry.

Retail Drinks has issued a statement in response to the story, labelling it as misleading and offensive.

Last week, FARE’s CEO, Caterina Giorgi said:

“Alcohol companies have demonstrated their predatory instincts by aggressively marketing products during COVID-19 and this is resulting in big profits – but at what cost to the health and wellbeing of our families and communities?” she said…

“Companies should not be able to use a global health crisis as an opportunity to sell more alcoholic products at the detriment of the health of Australians.”

Retail Drinks CEO Michael Waters refutes FARE’s claims which fail to consider the decline in alcohol sales across on- premises venues, closed due to various lockdowns throughout COVID-19 pandemic.

“What FARE have chosen to conveniently ignore is the fact that takeaway alcohol sales grew in 2020 because on-premises venues such as pubs, clubs and restaurants were forced to close their doors for significant periods of the year due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Further, these on-premises venues were supported by governments with temporary exemptions permitting takeaway alcohol sales.

“The alarmist rhetoric from FARE is purely designed to create a false narrative around Australian alcohol consumption in an attempt to scare governments and policymakers into pursuing more restrictive alcohol- related policies.”

Waters cited the recent ABS National Health Survey which found that a significant majority of Australians (85.6 per cent) have been drinking responsibly during the pandemic shut down, representing an improvement of 1.6 per cent since 2018.

In response to FARE’s claims about irresponsible marketing practices by the industry, he said:

“Any suggestion that the growth in takeaway alcohol sales is somehow a result of predatory marketing tactics by liquor retailers is a blatant falsehood and incredibly offensive.

“The retail liquor industry takes its commitment to responsible retailing very seriously,” he said.

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