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Policies & Issues: Food

BRC members fully accept their responsibility as alcohol retailers and are working with their customers to promote and encourage responsible drinking. We recognise that more is needed to address the problems caused by those who drink irresponsibly and we will continue to work with stakeholders and Government to achieve the cultural change required. We do not, however, support untargeted measures that will simply penalise the vast majority of the population that drink responsibly, such as minimum pricing and bans on promotion.

Our members typically sell alcohol as part of the weekly shop. Less than 10% of turnover in an average supermarket is alcohol sales, and that is reflected in the offers in store. These are usually on larger purchases of alcohol that are not for immediate consumption, rather for enjoying at home with family and friends over a long period. We know that customers value these offers alongside the other groceries they are buying and enjoy them responsibly at home.

BRC members have initiated and supported a number of initiatives to help improve the way alcohol is sold and enjoyed. They were the first to set up the Challenge 21 (now Challenge 25) approach to sales which means everyone over that age is challenged for identification and no ID means no sale. This policy has successfully curbed sales to underage customers and, as it has now been adopted by other companies in the on and off trade. In support of this policy our members are working at a local level through Community Alcohol Partnerships with police, trading standards and schools to tackle underage drinking and low level disorder; more details are available at

BRC members have also been working with their customers to help them drink responsibly. They were the first sector to adopt the Department of Health alcohol label which is now on all own brand product in the major supermarkets. This gives unit information on the label and reinforces the responsible drinking limits to help consumers. Our members have also made a substantial contribution to the Drinkaware Trust, the independent body that is running campaigns with all ages to change the way we approach alcohol in the UK. The Drinkaware Trust is the best known alcohol charity, is supported by the Government and will be pivotal in changing the country's drinking habits.

We are working closely with all UK Governments on their alcohol strategies, including full participation in the Department of Health's public health responsibility deal.

We believe changing the culture is key to tackling the UK's problems with alcohol and retailers are making their contribution, working with stakeholders and consumers.

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