Shops that sell strong, cheap alcohol such as white ciders will come under increasing pressure from the health lobby to ditch the products in the coming months.

With the Government’s consultation on alcohol strategy due to close on February 6, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD) has warned independent retailers to be more responsible than ever when selling alcoholic products.

This follows schemes like the Reducing the Strength campaign in Ipswich where health professionals have succeeded in getting more than half of the town’s shops to ditch beer and cider with an ABV of 6.5 per cent and above.

David Visick, head of communications for the FWD, told Retail Express: “We are expecting pressure to mount on retailers to stop selling super-strength lagers and ciders. Strong ciders represent a small and declining proportion of overall alcohol sales, but we expect attention to focus on the harm these products can have when they are misused by a very small minority of the population.”

Although the Government’s plans to bring in a minimum price per unit of 45p would effectively sink the cheap white cider market, he said retailers must ensure that they sell high strength products responsibly, and stock a broad range of competitively-priced lower-alcohol alternatives.

Meanwhile, Accolade Wines’ Wine Nation report has concluded that if the Government bans multi-buy discounts, it could lead to people consuming more alcohol, not less.

A similar ban was implemented in Scotland in October 2011, and retailers adapted by reducing the price of single wine bottles, which has attracted new consumers, the report said.

Have your say…

What do you think about the Government’s consultation?  Do retailers need to be more responsible when it comes to selling strong alcohol?  What effect would it have on your business if you were to phase the category out?

Let us know in the comments below and read other retailers’ views on strong, cheap alcohol in Express Yourself on p16 of Retail Express Jan 15 – 28 issue.