db to honour hospitality heroes at its 2020 awards

26th August, 2020

With the global hospitality industry facing unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus crisis, certain individuals have emerged as heroes by helping those in greatest need navigate their way through the pandemic.

It has been heart-warming to see so many people within the drinks and hospitality industry step up and help out through an array of innovative initiatives, and we felt the following 11 deserved singling out in our shortlist.

The winner of our Hospitality Hero award will be announced at The Drinks Business Awards 2020 next month, which we will bring you details of soon. Below are profiles of the 11 hospitality heroes on our shortlist.

 

José Andrés

For the last decade, Asturias-born, US-based chef José Andrés has been a food first responder, helping to feed those blighted by natural disasters around the world through his World Central Kitchen initiative. His response to the Covid-19 crisis was no different. Since the start of the pandemic, Andres has provided over 25 million fresh meals in over 400 cities across the US to communities in need of support, including elderly citizens shielding from the virus.

His #ChefsForAmerica food relief scheme gives back to the struggling on-trade by purchasing over 7 million meals from local restaurants in need of revenue during the crisis to feed those most in need. The initiative has injected over US$90 million into the US on-trade since March, helping to keep hospitality workers employed and restaurants open.

“From NY to Little Rock, Oakland to Navajo Nation, we’ve been fighting hunger from the frontlines. In the process, we have kept hundreds of restaurants from going out of business and thousands of Americans employed to cook for their communities. But it is not enough. We cannot solve the hunger crisis with philanthropy alone,” Andres says in an open letter on the WCK website.

 

Daniel Humm

Having been named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017, in early April chef Daniel Humm turned the three Michelin star Eleven Madison Park into a commissary kitchen to help feed frontline workers during the Covid-19 crisis. Teaming up with Rethink Food NYC on the venture, which has partly been funded by American Express, since its inception Humm has produced over 3,000 meals a day for New Yorkers in need.

By the end of May he and his team had prepared over 90,000 meals through the project, which he plans on extending beyond New York. The crisis seems to have brought about a shift in perspective for Humm, who is keen to continue his charitable work beyond the Covid-19 crisis to provide meals for those facing extreme poverty. “I need to help New York City – it’s given so much to me. The city needs food to help those in need, and if we can do just a little something, these dark days can be a bit brighter,” Humm wrote on his Instagram feed when he launched the initiative.

 

Rishi Sunak

Having been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer on 13 February, Rishi Sunak has shown the hospitality industry unprecedented levels of support during these unprecedented times. In July he cut VAT for hospitality businesses from 20% to 5%. His Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which launched on 3 August and runs until the end of the month, has proved a successful way of getting cautious diners back into restaurants.

The scheme offers diners a 50% discount when they eat in at restaurants registered with the initiative, up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner. Running on Mondays to Wednesdays, so far 64 million meals have been discounted through the scheme, which has no minimum spend and no maximum group size. The 84,000 venues signed up to the scheme are reimbursed by the government for the diner discounts.

“This scheme has reminded us how much we love to dine out, and in doing so, how this is helping to protect the jobs of nearly two million people who work in hospitality,” Sunak said. Eat Out to Help Out has proved so popular, a number of London restaurants, including Aqua Shard, M Victoria, Kricket and Benares, will continue to offer diner discounts after it ends.

 

Berkmann Wine Cellars

Berkmann Wine Cellars was one of the first UK wine suppliers to take action after the coronavirus crisis hit, launching an online wine platform called Help 4 Hospitality, which donated a proportion of revenues from direct to consumer wine orders to two charities supporting the hospitality industry during the crisis – The Drinks Trust and Hospitality Action. Pivoting from trade to consumer wine sales during lockdown, the online wine shop gave consumers access to an exclusive range of wines normally reserved for the trade. Hospitality outlets that joined the scheme were given a voucher code to share with their mailing list.

“The hospitality industry is suffering immeasurably during this shutdown. At the same time, we are hearing of consumers struggling to obtain the wines they want because of the pressure on retailers. We have great wine, and we have the infrastructure to deliver it, while being able to generate some much-needed support for our partners in the trade,” Rupert Berkmann, CEO of Berkmann Wine Cellars said at the time of the launch. The scheme, which ended in mid-August, raised £75,000 for the hospitality industry, with Minuty rosé proving a best-seller.

 

Tom Kerridge

In April, Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge helped raise £100,000 to fund free meals for frontline NHS workers during the Covid-19 pandemic through the Meals From Marlow initiative. The campaign, backed by Kerridge, raised £100,000 in 48 hours and included a £25,000 donation from local charity the Shanly Foundation. The funds paid for 600 meals a day for NHS staff and vulnerable citizens in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

Kerridge has provided kitchen facilities to bring the project to life and has enlisted the help of fellow chefs in the Marlow area to cook the meals. “I know the people of Marlow are a very generous group, but I’m astonished by the speed and the level of kindness. People realise that as well as looking after our own neighbours, the front line is in the big hospitals where NHS teams are doing astonishing work. Thank you Marlow, I’m proud of you,” Kerridge said at the time.

 

Ryan Reynolds

Prior to the headline-grabbing news of Aviation Gin’s sale to Diageo this month, actor Ryan Reynolds got busy showing the US and UK bartending community some much-needed love during the pandemic. In April Reynolds announced that he would be donating 30% of the proceeds from online sales of Aviation Gin to the American the United States Bartenders Guild in an initiative that ran until the end of May with the help of partner retailers ReserveBar, Drizly, Wine.com, TotalWine, MiniBar, and Caskers. Reynolds’ act of kindness came on top of the $15,000 donation Aviation has already made to the USBG.

In April the actor extended his #TipYourBartenders initiative to the UK, donating 30% of the profits from UK sales of Aviation Gin to industry charity The Drinks Trust in a scheme that ran until the end of May through retail partners Proof Drinks and The Whisky Exchange. “The UK is not only home to the world’s most discerning gin drinkers, but also the ‘gintenders’ themselves. In an effort to support the bartenders we know and love, we will be donating a tip for every bottle purchased online to support the invaluable work The Drinks Trust continues to do,” Reynolds said.

 

M and Gaucho

During the height of the crisis, London steakhouses Gaucho and M delivered a thousand meals a week to NHS frontline staff across the UK capital at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in southeast London and The Nightingale Hospital at ExCel in east London. The restaurants partnered with the Hildon Foundation and Deliveroo to deliver the meals twice a day along with bottles of Hildon water.

Among the dishes being delivered to frontline workers were the M burger with cheese, bacon jam and pickles; sticky pork bao buns with kimchi mayo; crab sandos with yuzu mayo; and Argentine fillet steak with triple cooked chips. M is also hosting an NHS appreciation dinner on 28 September at M Threadneedle St for 200 NHS frontline doctors and nurses and their partners.

“I am delighted that we are able to show our massive appreciation for the NHS in our own small way by both providing meals for frontline workers and creating a special dinner of appreciation once the lockdown rules have relaxed,” said Martin Williams, CEO of Gaucho and M Restaurants.

 

Claridge’s

Having withstood two world wars, one of London’s oldest and best-loved hotels, Claridge’s, went beyond the call of duty during the height of the coronavirus crisis while its doors were closed to paying guests, by opening up its rooms to 40 NHS workers from St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, offering them a safe place to lay their heads after long shifts on the front line.

The Mayfair landmark also donated thousands of toothbrushes, bars of soap and bottles of shampoo and hand wash to frontline workers, while the kitchens hotel’s provided breakfast and dinner for the doctors and nurses, and made daily packed meals for over 500 NHS workers and community support teams across London.

“Claridge’s has a duty to step up and support the people of London. Teams from all our hotels have volunteered, and we are honoured to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time, we are forever in their debt,” said Paddy McKillen, co-owner of Maybourne Hotel Group.

 

Comfort cookbook

 Devon and Cornwall’s top chefs, including Michael Caines, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw, created a cookbook called ‘Comfort’ during the coronavirus crisis, asking people to donate what they could for the digital tome via JustGiving to raise funds for Hospitality Action. Full of comfort food recipes designed to bring joy during the dark days of the crisis, all of the chefs involved offered their services free of charge.

The recipes are intentionally easy for families to prepare at home using local, seasonal produce. Each features a local drinks pairing. The book also includes advice on growing food at home, foraging and using store cupboard ingredients.

The book is the brainchild of Cornwall-based food and drink PR, Lucy Studley. “Business owners who faced losing everything repeatedly said to me, ‘if this saves one life it will be worth it.’ I wanted to do something to help – to create a positive story at this dark time and to financially support hospitality workers who face hardship,” she said.

 

Hallgarten & Novum Wines

To help keep the momentum generated by the Eat Out To Help Out going, Hallgarten & Novum Wines will be dishing out over 100,000 free glasses of wine to diners at the restaurants it supplies throughout the month of September, donating a retail value of £700,000 to its on-trade accounts.

Hoping the scheme will incentivise people to dine out, the funding is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis through the Hallgarten website until 28 August. “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has provided a great boost to the hospitality sector, so our plans focused on helping customers to drive footfall in the second half of September.

“Wine plays an important role in the meal experience and often makes up a large proportion of restaurant bills,” said Andrew Bewes, managing director at Hallgarten Wines. “While not a panacea to the challenges facing the industry, we hope that this initiative will make a difference and, in some small way, help to revitalise wine sales in restaurants, hotels and pubs,” he added.

 

Diageo

While many of the world’s leading drinks companies have helped the hospitality industry during the crisis, Diageo has been particularly benevolent. At the start of the crisis it donated two million litres of Grain Neutral Spirit – a 96% strength ethyl alcohol used primarily in production of vodka and gin, to hand sanitiser producers around the world free of charge to go towards the production of 8 million 250ml bottles of hand sanitizer for frontline workers tackling the crisis.

In June Diageo launched a US$100m on-trade recovery fund through its ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative, to help pubs and bars around the world get back on their feet after lockdown. The two-year programme began in July to support the recovery of hospitality centres, including New York, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Delhi and Sydney.

In the UK, Diageo provided funding for hygiene kits, including sanitiser dispense units, medical grade hand sanitiser and a range of personal protection equipment, such as masks and gloves. During lockdown the firm offered hospitality workers the chance to take its online Diageo Bar Academy training course free of charge, to improve their skill set, while allowing more flexibility to its smaller on-trade accounts to help them access products more easily and manage their cash flow.

New Chinese whisky distillery construction kicks off in Huizhou

26th August, 2020

A Chinese company has begun work on a 1.6 billion RMB whisky distiller in Longmen County in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China.

Set in Longtan Town, the construction is set to be a national 4A class attraction combining the elements of whisky production and tourism.

The natural ecology in Longmen has abundant natural resources and the necessary water quality suitable for whisky production.

Longmen has a long tradition of alcoholic drinks making. Currently, there are three baijiu producers and over 300 liquor workshops in the county.

The whisky distillery project is being funded by a whisky production company in Guangdong named ‘YunDing’, which literally means “top of the cloud” in Chinese, and which shares the same Chinese name of the Springbank distillery based in Campbeltown.

The distillery will cover an area of 800 acres, including eight whisky production lines, exhibition centres, a tasting centre, catering facilities and even a water park.

The distillery will be constructed in three phases, with the ultimate goal of having eight production lines with an annual output of about 20,000 tons of whisky.

The goal is to create a national 4A-level industrial tourist attraction, with annual revenue of about 4 billion RMB and annual visits of 1.5 million tourists.

Longmen is located nearby Guangzhou and Shenzhen, two of the major cities in southern China. Its geographical advantages grant broad development opportunities. In particular, Longmen has been closely following the goal of developing a “big mountain economy”.

In recent years, with Scotch and Japanese whisky becoming trendy in the country, ‘made in China’ whisky is on the rise as well. After Diageo’s new joint venture with Chinese baijiu producer Jiangsu Yanghe Distillery, Pernod Ricard also announced an one billion RMB whisky distillery project in Emeishan, Sichuan.

Fast fashion brand PrettyLittleThing launches gin

26th August, 2020

Fashion brand PrettyLittleThing, owned by scandal-ridden clothing group Boohoo, has launched a pink gin to “lift the spirits of sun-seekers, festival-goers and stay-cationers”.

The pink gin, which is strawberry and vanilla flavoured, was made by the Handmade Gin Company, a Liverpool-based distiller that produces other brightly coloured spirits brands such as Bakewell Gin, Pink Dog, Union Jack Black Gin and Everton Gin.

Crafted my head distiller Claire Barclay, the spirit is made with botanicals and fruits including juniper, cardamom, coriander, orange zest, lemon zest, strawberry, vanilla pods, and pineapple.

A spokesperson for the fashion brand said the spirit was created to “lift the spirits of sun-seekers, festival-goers and stay-cationers” while there is less use for on-trend festival outfits as the UK struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Just 99 bottles have been made, and will be released to fast fashion fans through a competition on social media.

PLT is asking hopeful winners to follow the fashion brand’s social accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or TikTok, and then “follow the instructions”.

The competition ends on Thursday 3 September and the lucky winners of the exclusive 99 bottles will then be revealed.

Clothing giant Boohoo bought 100% of PrettyLittleThing in May, after first taking a 66% stake in the business in 2017.

The launch comes weeks after a Sunday Times investigation found staff at Boohoo’s supply facilities in Leicester were working in unsanitary conditions, with some making as little as £3.50 an hour.

Boohoo’s share price crashed by 35% in two days, wiping £1.1 billion off its market value. Its products were also removed from the websites of Asos, Next and Zalando.

Blue sake launched in Japan

26th August, 2020

Sato Sake Brewery has recently created a brand new blue sake named Seilan made with the flowers of ‘butterfly peas’.

Seilan is produced by Sato Sake Brewery in the city of Nagahama in Shiga Prefecture. Brewed with Yamada Nishiki rice from the region, the product is a Ginjo sake with a rice polishing rate of 60%. The sake is then infused with butterfly pea flowers to give it the highly sought-after indigo hue.

The sake also has colour changing properties meaning it can also be used in the classic sake cocktail Samurai Rock with the addition of lemon juice. Upon adding an acidic medium, the colour of the sake will change from blue to purple.

According to the winery, butterfly pea flowers have a neutral flavour and so it will not affect the original profile of the sake. On the other hand, the sake is rather approachable and easy drinking.

Clitoria ternatea, also known as butterfly pea or blue pea among other names, is a plant common to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

Its flowers have long been used in Asian cuisine to add colour to dishes and can be made into a caffeine-free herbal tea.

Guala Closures saves £200k by installing oil filters

26th August, 2020

Italian closures specialist Guala has saved an estimated £200,000 as a result of adopting an oil cleaning system for its 25 hydraulic injection moulding machines.

Guala Closures has been working with Tris UK at is Glasgow site in order to improve the efficiency of its operations, avoid machine breakdowns and reduce wastage.

After performing a case study, Guala found that it had saved around £200,000 after installing Tris UK’s triple bypass oil cleaning system 10 years ago.

Craig McCall, maintenance team eader at Guala’s Glasgow facility, said: “Historically, the manufacturing site at Glasgow had a significant issue with injection moulding machines breaking down. Pumps were having to be replaced three or four times a year on the machines, valves were jamming at around the same rate, and each time a part was replaced, the machine oil had to be changed as well. Not to mention that the machine would be down for 24 – 36 hours while remedial works were taking place. As anyone in the industry will know, pumps cost around £5k each, and valves £2k, so the cost of replacing those alone was extremely high.”

“With 25 hydraulic injection moulding machines, and 400 litres of oil each time, it was adding up to a tremendously wasteful and costly problem. We didn’t know what was causing it, so put it down to inevitable wear and tear on the components.”

After consulting with Andrew Thoms, managing director of Tris UK, Guala instead found that the cause of their problem was dirty oil. Based on an analysis of the oil samples from Guala’s machines, Thoms recommended installing filters, and was able to determine how often they would need changing.

Tris’s system removes the three major forms of oil contaminants – sold particles, resins and water – by forcing the oil through a 114m thick three-layer filter.

McCall added: “We’ve had no pump or valve replacements in 10 years thanks to Tris UK’s Triple R filters and Andy’s incredible service. They’ve saved us over £200,000 over the past 10 years, countless production hours, and saved so much hassle by preventing remedial works,”

“We change the filter elements twice a year, and it even comes with a little bag so you don’t get your hands dirty. And Tris UK works out how often we need to change the filter elements, so effort from us is minimal.”

Italian fine wines at ‘historic levels of growth’

26th August, 2020

Liv-ex has reported that secondary market trade in Italian wines has hit “historic” levels in both volume and value this year, with trade this year surpassing that of the whole of 2019.

Yesterday morning (25 August) Liv-ex said that the value of Italian wines traded so far this year surpassed that of 2019 and volume would soon follow.

Italian wines have been on the rise for some time, at the forefront of an increasingly broad market for collectable fine wines.

Liv-ex reported last year that the number of unique Italian wines traded on its platform had risen 1,500% over the last decade.

In that time the trade value of Italian wines in the secondary market has grown at a compound annual rate of 9%.

And the numbers keep rising. From January to July this year the number of Italian wines with LWIN11 identifiers increased 153.6% and Italian wines’ trade value was up 70% in the first seven months of 2020 too.

Leading the way has been demand for Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, their growth (from small bases) all up over 300% so far this year.

Furthermore, for the first time Barolo and Barbaresco’s combined trade value has seen them outpace the Super Tuscans which have dominated Italian trade so far.

Bolgheri and Toscana – the home of the Super Tuscans – have not been completely left behind. After several years of sustained growth their progress is just no longer quite as explosive. The Italy 100 index for example is up 2.3% on the year-to-date and 4.2% one a one-year period, the second-best performing index over both periods that Liv-ex has.

Within that the Super Tuscans have seen growth of 4.2% year-to-date and 8.8% over one year.

As Liv-ex noted, an immunity to the recently imposed US tariffs, excellent value versus the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy and a string of excellent recent vintages in 2015, 2016 and 2017 have all boosted Italian wine enormously and, “with few signs of headwinds ahead for Italy the country seems certain to remain in focus as the year rolls on.”

Relief fund launched for California wine country

26th August, 2020

As fires continue to burn across the state of California, a team of wine industry professionals, who helped to raise almost US$100,000 after the 2017 fires, have launched a relief fund to help those affected this year.

According to the latest data from Cal Fire, over 14,000 firefighters are currently battling more than 24 major fires across California. A statement released yesterday (25 August) said that conditions experienced the previous evening had been favourable, but there had still been over 200 lightning strikes across the state.

Since 15 August, there have been over 13,000 strikes in the state and more than 650 wildfires, which have now burned over 1.25 million acres, an area larger than the state of Delaware.

Seven people have died and more than 1,400 structures have been destroyed.

Fires have burned across many wine-growing regions, including parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, Lake, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The fires have come at a time when the state’s wine producers are harvesting this year’s crop.

Wine industry professionals Tia Butts, Katie Calhoun, Kimberly Charles, Rebecca Hopkins and Katherine Jarvis have now banded together to launch a fundraising campaign, primarily focused on supporting members of the industry, including farmworkers, that have been caught up in the fires.

The fundraising campaign can be found here. 

The largest fires in the state, the so-called SCU and LNU lightning complexes, are now the second and third-largest wildfires in state history. The SCU complex, which has now overtaken the LNU in size, is burning across Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Clare and Stanislaus counties, covering an area of 365,772 acres. So far it is just 20% contained.

LNU, which is now 27% contained and covers and area of 356,326 acres, includes the Hennessey, Walbridge and Meyers fires, which have struck parts of Napa, Lake, Sonoma, Solano, and Yolo counties.

Further afield the CZU complex, affecting the Santa Cruz mountains, now covers an area of 79,640 acres and is 19% contained.

Those wineries known to have received some damage during the fires include Brown Estate, Somerston Estate and Nichelini Vineyards in Napa and La Borgata Winery and Distillery in Solano.

According to Sonoma West, sparkling wine specialist Korbel Winery in Sonoma ceased production at its winery near Guerneville last week and diverted harvested grapes to its Bakersfield Heck Cellars.

Some wineries have had to cancel outdoor tastings due to poor air quality, and those in the affected areas have had to evacuate, disrupting harvest.

While many, including most producers on the valley floor in Napa, remain unaffected, the extent to which smoke taint may have affected the grapes is unclear.

Noah Dorrance, owner and winemaker of Reeve Wines in Healdsburg, Sonoma, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that there’s a good chance the producer won’t be able to use any grapes this year, due to the smoke. The wine label, which does not own its own vineyards, instead sources grapes from growers and rents out space at a crush facility.

Dorrance told the publication that he had already tasted smoke in samples from this year, adding: “I had never considered that smoke could affect everything we make.”

Much depends on the weather in the forthcoming days and weeks, and how long the smoke lingers over vineyards.

Other aid organisations include the American Red Cross, the World Central Kitchen, the California Fire Foundation, Napa Valley Community Foundation, Sonoma County Vintners Emergency Fund and the Monterey County Community Resilience Program.

Socially-distanced beer festival at Printworks cancelled

26th August, 2020

One of the only London beer festivals scheduled to take place this summer has been cancelled days after it was announced due to coronavirus fears.

Last week (17 August), we reported that London nightlife polestar Printworks was to become the backdrop for the city’s “first socially distanced beer festival” over the August bank holiday weekend.

Around 50 craft brewers were planning to set up stands at the event, including Verdant, Gypsy Hill, Cloudwater, Tiny Rebel, Magic Rock, Duration, and DEYA.

The organisers made efforts to reassure beer fans that the event would adhere to the government’s social distancing rules for hospitality businesses. Far fewer brewers would exhibit than at BrewLDN’s flagship event in February, and the entire day was to be help at Printworks’ outdoor spaces. Attendees were also asked to book a table for up to six people, with four-hour time slots assigned for each group.

However, just over a week later, the beer festival has been scrapped due to fears that the measures being put in place would “compromise the audiences’ experience”.

Anyone who already bought a ticket to the event will be able to get a full refund.

“It is with great sadness, that in the face of the ever-changing challenges created by Covid-19, the difficult decision has been made to cancel BREW//LDN Summer Sessions,” said a statement from the organisers.

“We’ve received an overwhelming level of support from those who booked tickets, partners, contractors and of course Printworks, and can’t apologise enough for the short notice.

“Difficulties in respecting the necessary government guidelines meant we could not continue without compromising the audiences’ experience – this is a difficult decision and not one that has been taken lightly.

“Despite this, we’ll continue to work on delivering great beer experiences in other ways between now and our flagship event in February 2021, but for now BREW//LDN Summer Sessions will have to wait until 2021…”

Chile’s Garcés Silva goes 100% organic

26th August, 2020

This year marked the first harvest when every grape at Garcés Silva was grown organically, with the family-owned winery in Chile’s San Antonio Valley deciding to convert fully to the farming method for the 2019-2020 growing season.

The Garcés Silva winery in San Antonio

According to the winemaker, Diego Rivera, the impact has been clear, with a “change in the fermentations and expressions of the wines,” noting that, in particular, there was “no problem this year with slow ferments,” adding, “We had really great dynamics, and we can be really confident now with natural ferments, which is one of the many positive aspects of organic agriculture.”

With 162 hectares of productive vineyards, the move to organics is far from insignificant, and follows a desire by the family and its employees to eschew any synthetic chemical inputs and improve quality at Garcés Silva, with Rivera saying that he was inspired by the results of longstanding organic producers in Chile, above all those in the newly-formed San Antonio Valley Association (Three of the eight member wineries are already organic/biodynamic: Matetic, Hacienda San Juan, Casas de Bucalemu).

Rivera expects to gain organic certification for all his production in two years time.

Summing up he also identified the market potential, saying, “We believe the opportunity exists for cool climate wines made in an organic way.”

Portman Group hits back at AHA labelling claims

26th August, 2020

Claims by the Alcohol Health Alliance that alcohol labelling in the UK is “woefully inadequate” have been dubbed “nonsense” by industry body the Portman Group.

The Alcohol Health Alliance, which campaigns for policies to reduce alcohol-related harm, has released a survey called “Drinking in the Dark”, in which it lays out a number of apparent findings after examining the labels of 424 alcoholic drinks across the UK.

The survey is in effect a rehash of exactly the same exercise the group conducted in 2018.

The purpose was to determine whether they provided up-to-date information such as the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) revised weekly guidelines of a maximum 14 units.

The survey concluded that 70% of bottles examined did not carry the information on safe drinking limits, nearly a quarter carried out of date information and much of what was displayed was not easily legible.

It was also noted that of the 199 labels examined that did not carry “any” drinking guidelines, 158 instead included a link to the Drinkaware website.

This, the report said, “would require a potential buyer to get online and navigate the website to find the information about drinking guidelines,” and was not acceptable.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the AHA, said: “The alcohol industry has been dragging its heels for four years in updating product labelling to display current CMO drinking guidelines. It is simply outrageous that the vast majority of products still fail to include up-to-date health guidelines. The message is clear: the alcohol industry is not taking the nation’s health seriously and cannot be trusted to regulate itself.

“It is time for the government to introduce mandatory labelling on all alcohol products with prominent health warnings, information on ingredients, nutrition and calories. We all have a right to know what we are drinking and mandatory labelling will help consumers make informed decisions about their health.”

The report took aim at industry regulatory body, Portman Group, with claims that just 2% of bottles produced by its members included the correct guidelines.

The group, whose members include Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Carlsberg, Budweiser, Heineken and Brown-Forman among others, hit back strongly however.

CEO John Timothy, said: “This report is utter nonsense, based on out of date information and the typical anti-alcohol ideology of the AHA who can’t stand the fact that the moderate majority can sensibly enjoy a drink and stick within the 14 unit guidance.”

IN response to claims about inaccurate labelling on the part of its members he added: “Take just two of our Portman Group members, Heineken and Budweiser Brewing Group, who represent over half of the UK’s beer and cider market.

“They already carry full CMO guidance on over 60% of their products and they will have nearly completed the process by the end of the year. On nutrition information over 95% of products carry this on labels. Our members are leaders in the industry, ensuring that for over 30 years that the sector is responsible and in that time have seen significant declines in alcohol consumption, youth drinking, drink driving and alcohol related crime.”

 

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