Thursday, April 3, 2008

Do alcopops and ethics mix?

So who is doing the right thing here? It's hard to tell. Just days after the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his health minister Nicola announce a crackdown on binge drinking two of the largest booze companies, Lion Nathan and Fosters say they are getting out of the supercharged alcopops market. Their announcement caught some of the other larger players on the hop. Diageo said it was not exiting the high alcohol energy added market but did say that it would ensure its drinks would be no more than two standard drinks per serve. Jim Beam - the largest player in the ready to drinks spirits market - ducked out of it by saying that it believed that the high price charged for the high alcoholic ready to drink spirits (RTDs) would put off binge drinkers. It said it did not see a reason to move to a two standard drinks per serve threshold because some bottles of beer had just as high an alcoholic content, which is true. Then in a rather desperate bid of the moral high ground, Diageo said that its Smirnoff Ice Black with guarana was a cut above all those other energy drinks like Volt or Elevate. Diageo's chief mouthpiece in Australia said people bought Smirnoff Ice Black with Guarana for its "taste profile" not because its stimulating properties allows you to stay up all night drinking and partying .Who are they kidding? I think we should the get the competition watchdog on to them for false and misleading conduct. Just about everyone out there is buying that brand for the kick not the taste so it is dingenuous of Diageo to suggest otherwise. Also both Fosters and Lion were losing market share on their high energy high alcoholic RTDs so it wasn't a huge sacrifice for them to give it up. At least there was one alcopops manufacturer that was just as unapolegetic was it has always been - Independent Distillers, the makers of the brilliantly-named Funky Monkey and Pulse. We can only assume that they don't give a stuff what anyone thinks as they won't pick up the phone to answer any questions.