Retail Drinks Australia has criticised the latest research released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and its claims about the online liquor retail industry.

The report states that children are being put at risk because of claims that none of the retailers in the study used point of sale age verification processes for customers attempting to buy alcohol online for home delivery.

Retail Drinks CEO, Michael Waters, refuted such claims while highlighting that age verification occurs at various points throughout the supply chain.

“FARE’s latest report mischaracterises the nature of the online alcohol delivery sector, choosing to ignore the fact that age verification occurs throughout the entire delivery process, including at point of delivery, rather than only at the point of sale. This finding demonstrates a complete lack of understanding regarding the nature of the online alcohol delivery services,” Waters said.

“The use of incomplete data to arrive at inadequate findings ahead of a parliamentary debate on liquor laws in Victoria not only skews the debate in the wrong direction but it also undermines two years worth of public policy consultation and is sadly tone deaf to the pressures being felt by retailers during a global pandemic.”

Retail Drinks also dismissed the FARE report’s suggestion that growth and increased popularity in the online liquor retail sector was alarming in itself. This simply illustrates the changing methods consumers are using to purchase alcohol due to pandemic restrictions, rather than an increase in overall consumption.   

Waters said: “Contrary to FARE’s commentary, the fact that online alcohol services have grown in popularity is hardly a cause for panic, particularly given the significant shift in consumer behaviour brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Whilst we have seen an increase in retail alcohol sales, including online alcohol sales and deliveries, overall alcohol consumption is still in a state of decline.

“State and territory governments throughout the country have been imploring consumers to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission by ordering online and the growth in the online retail liquor industry is no different to any other retail sector.”

Retail Drinks also highlighted the world-leading Online Alcohol Sale and Delivery Code of Conduct, which sets proactive responsibility standards within the industry that go above and beyond the law in most of Australia.

“Retail Drinks has responded to the growth in online liquor retailing by proactively establishing an industry-first, world-leading Code, which has now been in place for over two years and covers over 80 per cent of all alcohol sold online and delivered in Australia,” Waters said.

“Code Signatories include some of the most recognised and trusted companies and brands who have safeguards embedded in their apps, procedures and systems which specifically prevent alcohol deliveries to minors.

“As per the requirements of the Code, these systems must verify the age of customers as over 18 and consist of more than a manual date of birth entry. The Code also mandates a number of key responsibility measures, including a ban on same-day unattended alcohol deliveries, block-out delivery times, self-exclusion and mandatory training for all alcohol delivery drivers.”

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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