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Ready-To-Drinks (RTDs) No Cause for Concern

RTDs No Cause for Concern

Although ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages (RTDs) continue to be the fastest growing drinks category, the results should not be cause for concern, says Thomas Chin, chief executive for the Distilled Spirits Association of New Zealand*.

The volume of RTDs available for consumption increased by 11% in the year ended June according to Statistics New Zealand figures issued this week.

"While this is a high growth rate for the category, reflecting the ongoing popularity of the drinks, it needs to be taken in the context of total alcohol consumption," says Thomas Chin.

"RTDs represent just 7.5 percent of the total market of 436 million litres. Combined with full strength spirits, that's a total of only 9.8 percent of all alcohol consumed across the board, with wine representing 18 percent (80m litres) and 313m litres of beer responsible for a massive 72 percent."

The Distilled Spirits Association believes RTDs have taken a hard rap recently by misinformed commentators that believe the alcohol content to be higher than that of other alcoholic beverages. In fact, most RTDs are of an equivalent strength to packaged beer, containing 5 percent alcohol, or 1.5 standard drinks per unit, which is directly comparable with the alcohol content of beer.

"The reality is that alcohol is alcohol, and it has the same effects, regardless of whether it has been brewed, distilled or fermented."

A typical serving of each of the different alcohol beverages; spirits, wine or beer, contain the same amount of alcohol (about 10grams) and therefore is recognised as a standard drink. So, a nip of scotch, or a measure of bourbon with cola has the same amount of alcohol, and therefore the same effects, as a glass of lager or wine.

The increase in consumption of RTDs can be attributed to the proliferation of variants now available on the market. Most of the country's major wineries and breweries are now offering beer, wine and spirits-based drinks combined with soft drinks or fruit juice.

"Some are reworking old favourites like "spritzers", wine coolers and cider, while others are inventing new fruit-flavoured concoctions."

Despite the increase in consumption of RTDs, there is no evidence to suggest that the drinks are associated with alcohol-related problems. "There is limited empirical evidence that young people prefer these products over other types of alcohol beverages," says Thomas Chin. This is reinforced in Government papers released to the Association under the Official Information Act recently, which notes "Researchers point out that RTDs are "not" the best drink to get drunk on, because of their relatively low alcohol content (the same as beer), small volume and high price, compared to other products - such as cider and fortified fruit wine - which are preferred for binge drinking".

* The Distilled Spirits Association of New Zealand, represents this country's leading producers and marketers of premium spirits and liqueurs.


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