Cormac Healy, director of Drinks Ireland, has responded to claims made regarding zero alcohol products.
Healy said, "The growth in zero alcohol products and the quality offering available is a positive development, that provides choice to consumers. It's unfortunate to see criticism of zero alcohol products from certain organisations today [Thursday 23 February]."
"Zero alcohol products have a clear role to play in supporting moderation, and so the growth of this category is something we should all be encouraging, not discouraging.
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"There is clear demand for these products from adult consumers, and the public is already ahead on this issue when it comes to what they're drinking and how they’re drinking. Industry is answering a real shift in consumption patterns.
"There are very strict codes in place on the advertising of zero alcohol drinks and they are never advertised or promoted to underage audiences.
"Driven by innovation among producers, non-alcohol beer's share of the market in Ireland has grown from 0.4% in 2017 to 1.5% in 2021, and this growth is expected to continue.
"This comes as alcohol consumption continues to slow, down by a third in 20 years according to Revenue data. While some organisations are focused on pushing out-dated stereotypes about how we drink, additional research also shows that consumers, particularly young Irish adults, are seeking more moderation, product choice and balance in how they drink and socialise.
"Non-alcohol variants are the choice of many drinkers now and will be for more in the future. Consumers have the right to choose, and the right to be informed of those choices."
Healy added, "These products empower and enable people to make positive choices and clearly, they are doing that given the growth trends in the category - criticism of their promotion suggests an anti-industry bias rather than a fact-based outlook."
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