Zero alc has no place in supermarkets: Sans Drinks founder

Sans Drinks founder, Irene Falcone (supplied)

Alcohol-free versions of alcoholic beverages should not be sold in supermarkets, says Sans Drinks founder Irene Falcone.

Sans Drinks, which opened earlier this year in Sydney’s northern suburb of Freshwater, is an alcohol-free bottleshop that aims to provide non-alcoholic alternatives to customers.

Falcone told Radio Brews News that zero alcoholic drinks in supermarkets could normalise the consumption of the alcoholic versions amongst children and young adults.

“Kids and young adults don’t really know the difference between a non-alcoholic beer and an alcoholic beer,” she said.

“They’re just seeing Corona and they’re just seeing Heineken. So they’re being exposed to that branding very strongly on a daily basis.

“We’re trying to give adults a non-alcoholic alternative to the real thing.”

Her comments come after the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) published its official position on zero alcohol products in January which recommended zero alcohol products should only be marketed and sold to adults, with availability limited to bottleshops and other such settings where age verification is required.

Criticism for zero alcoholic beverages and its marketing is not new with many companies facing backlash. Recently, Heineken faced an ABAC panel for its Instagram advert for Heineken 0.0.

Previously in 2019, former FARE Chief Executive Michael Thorn criticised CUB’s Carlton Zero advertisement stating that it was an effort to “groom the next generation of drinkers.”

Meanwhile, last week, a journal article in the Drug and Alcohol Review suggested that zero alcohol drinks could be “gateway” drinks.

While Falcone says they shouldn’t be sold in supermarkets, she said the question of whether non-alcoholic options are “gateway” drinks depends on accessibility.

“I think being accessible next to lemonade could be a gateway, in that environment. But I don’t think it’s a gateway specifically, in the right environment.

“For example, kids and young adults aren’t walking into Dan Murphys and they aren’t walking into my store either. They’re not googling it online. You gotta go seek it out.

“To seek it out is one thing, but to be hit with it, when you’re just in the shopping centre, pushing a trolley, or with your parents and you just want a Gatorade, that’s a different environment,” Falcone explained.

She said that while children are allowed to be in the San Drinks store, if they were to attempt to buy a non-alcoholic alternative drink, they would be denied.

“Whilst I’m legally allowed to [have children in store], there must be a social responsibility from people who are managing these stores.

“For me and for what I roll out in all of my stores, the products will not be sold to anyone under 18 and if they look young, I’ll be asking for ID.

“However, if they want to pop in and get a kombucha or a soft drink, then that’s fine,” she said.

Listen to the full interview with Irene Falcone below.

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