Brews News,  by

Zero alcohol beers have been making headlines in recent months with new brands launched seemingly every day.

But while some producers see it as purely a new category of the market, without the excise implications and retail restrictions of alcohol, others are critiquing the advent of non-alcoholic options as “grooming” minors or as “gateway” options which lead to excessive drinking.

Clinton Schultz founded no-alcohol brand Sobah Beverages in 2017 and has dedicated ethical and community-minded messages surrounding the brand’s non-alcoholic beer.

“More people should be more open about this. For some people it’s just an easy new sector of the market, and that’s when ethics fall away,” he said.

The issues arise from not only the marketing of no-alcohol beer – and whether it’s a brand extension of an existing alcohol beer or a new brand altogether – but also its treatment and placement within supermarkets and bottleshops.

Should zero alcohol be sold in supermarkets?

Currently, many organisations and retailers including supermarkets are grappling internally with how to deal with the positioning and marketing of no-alcohol options.

At Woolworths, non-alcoholic products are kept separate from confectionary and toy aisles and are ranged next to mixers which are more adult-orientated.

“We take our role as a responsible retailer seriously,” a Woolworths spokesperson told Brews News.

“It’s worth noting we’ve sold non-alcoholic wine and beers for many decades without issue.

“While there is currently no legislation in Australia preventing the sale of non-alcoholic products to customers, we’ll continue to have discussions with stakeholders and industry groups to ensure we’re operating at a high standard of responsible service.”

Although Woolworths did not respond in relation to whether they ID for no-alcohol beers, they said they are in full accordance with the ABAC code, which considers ‘masterbranded’ zero alcohol beverages as brand extensions of the alcohol product.

Similarly, Coles Supermarkets, which also owns Vintage Cellars and First Choice bottleshops, was keen to reiterate its stance as a responsible retailer but did not further elaborate on its stance following more detailed questioning from Brews News.

“Coles takes the Responsible Service of Alcohol very seriously and we abide by all the regulations and legislation in relation to the sale of alcohol,” a spokesperson said in answer to where no-alcohol beer was placed and whether it was company policy to ID customers.

The IGA meanwhile says that as stores are owned in a franchise model, it is up to the owner of each store to decide on the way they sell non-alcoholic products and whether they ID for them.

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