Drinks industry fails to get message on the bottle

Drinks industry lobbyist the Portman Group’s stance on labelling is looking distinctly muddled.

Back in February it emerged, to huge consternation among the bannist tendency, that only 15% of alcoholic drinks carried the labelling required by the current voluntary scheme. Not surprisingly, dire threats of legislative action issued from the then Labour government, and the Opposition upped its anti-industry rhetoric a register. Suitably chastened, the Portman Group promised action and earnestly set about collecting pledges from its members. Portman chief executive David Poley reckons that 81% (how curiously precise) of his members will now comply. But, here’s the odd bit. Stop dallying, he warns the new Government, or not very much is going to happen:

“There’s a danger that, if the government takes a long time in coming back and confirming its plans, then it will be difficult to achieve the 81% by the 2012 target,” he’s reported as saying. What, rightly or wrongly, can be inferred from this statement is that the drinks industry can’t be bothered to comply with its own code so long as the least threat of legislative intervention (a fairly low-grade threat by the way) hangs over it. Surely, such arrogant complacency is likely to provoke the very action the drinks industry most wishes to avert?

Then again, maybe it’s just me; maybe it’s the reporting; maybe we’re missing the wider context…


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