A number of major Irish drinks producers have now signed-up to an international initiative focused on supporting consumers’ increasing demands for greater convenience with enhanced standards of responsibility to prevent the sale of alcohol to those underage and reduce harmful drinking.
Drinks Ireland, which represents drinks manufacturers and suppliers, has welcomed the launch of the first-ever global standards for the online sale and delivery of alcohol.
Growth of alcohol e-commerce
Recent figures from Empathy research indicated a doubling from one-in-five to two-in-five in the number of consumers purchasing online while Amárach Research found that one in three Irish alcohol shoppers now expect to do most if not all of their alcohol shopping online in future.
Globally, between 2015 and 2020 the value of e-commerce alcohol sales grew 120% with total sales last year worth $36.8 billion.
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the online trend and online sales of alcohol are forecast to grow by over 74% across 20 of the world’s key markets by 2024 as consumers become more accustomed to buying their favourite drinks online.
Last year e-commerce alcohol represented 4% of all retail alcohol sales by volume.
The top 10 markets for e-commerce alcohol purchasing was topped by China last year, according to data from market researchers Euromonitor.
China recorded a 15.2% increase (to 3.77 million litres) while e-commerce alcohol purchasing in the US, in second place, recorded growth of 133%, with France up 43.2%, Japan up 28.4% and the UK up 19%.
In response to this growing online alcohol purchasing trend, a global partnership of 12 leading beer, wine and spirits companies forming the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking together with 14 global and regional online retailers, as well as e-commerce and delivery platforms, have identified five key safeguards to help ensure that robust standards are in place throughout the entire online supply chain and customer journey to combat harmful drinking.
The standards outlined in the document just launched include:
- improving safeguards and security measures that aim to prevent minors from being able to buy alcohol
- putting in place mechanisms to prevent beer, wine and spirits being delivered to minors, to individuals showing visible signs of intoxication or where prohibited by law
- providing tools, information and education or other support to drivers to empower them to deny delivery
- enhancing consumer information and control
- promoting global standards as a resource to support the development of national level codes and practices for the online sale and delivery of alcohol that build on local and national regulation.
“Irish drinks producers are proud to abide by some of the strictest rules and regulations with regard to the sale and marketing of alcohol in the world,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “These have been effective in tackling alcohol misuse resulting in the average alcohol consumption in 2020 being 29.8% lower than the peak of 2001.
“Underage alcohol consumption is also declining. A Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey released last year by the World Health Organisation found that Irish 10 to 17 year-olds who reported having ever been drunk declined by 19% between 1998 and 2018 to 18.3% and we have a very low level of underage drinking compared with other countries.
“These new international standards are an additional layer and a targeted response to the fact that consumers are increasingly buying alcohol online.”