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Alcohol Concern and WSTA clash over supermarket drinks displays

Published:  01 March, 2011

Alcohol Concern and the WSTA are at loggerheads over how supermarkets display alcohol throughout their stores.

The alcohol misuse charity has called for a clampdown on off-trade alcohol displays beside everyday food items, while the Wine & Spirit Trade Association maintains the trade should be encouraging people to drink with food, rather than demonising alcohol.

Alcohol Concern has called for alcohol displays in supermarkets and off-licences to be confined to a single area of the premises after carrying out a snapshot survey of Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, in Cardiff in December. Its research claims alcohol is no longer confined to a specific drinks aisle, but found throughout stores, in doorways, on end-of-aisle displays, by checkouts, and next to everyday essentials such as bread and milk.

Alcohol Concern's research found wine on sale next to soft drinks and fruit juice, bottles of spirits alongside bread and tea, cans of cider next to the hot chicken counter, and bottles of Champagne next to the milk.

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Supermarkets are overflowing with discount alcohol, and it's often displayed throughout the store. It's now common practice to sell wine next to ready-meals for example, pushing the idea that a relaxing meal should be accompanied by an alcoholic drink.

"Such practices promote alcohol as a normal commodity, like any other type of food or drink. They help to fuel a drinking culture in England, where one in four are already drinking at levels that are harming their health."

Scotland has already implemented measures restricting store-wide alcohol sales and it is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government.

A spokesman for the Wine & Spirit Trade Association said: "There is no evidence from Scotland that this has had any impact on tackling alcohol misuse. Far from demonising alcohol surely we should encourage people to drink with food. Most people enjoy drinks in this way and that's why they are happy to buy them as part of their weekly shop."