By James Atkinson

It's crucial for retailers, hotels and liquor suppliers to present a united front in dealing with issues related to alcohol consumption, according to Woolworths director of liquor, Brad Banducci. 

In a keynote presentation at the Australian Liquor Stores Association's annual conference in Hobart, Banducci expressed concern at the "crazy situation" that has seen hotels blame their off-premise counterparts for alcohol-related problems, and vice versa.

He said the suppliers have been no more unified in their approach, with the various wine, spirits and beer segments regularly at loggerheads over consumption and taxation issues.

"All of these discussions don't do anything to advance the agenda," he said.

"Unless we present a united party we're going to be picked off by a very committed and very unified foe on the other side."

Contrary to what anti-alcohol campaigners would have the public believe, Banducci said the evidence shows that consumption of all types of alcohol is falling as responsible drinking messages continue to resonate with the vast majority of consumers.

He said industry leadership is needed to ensure such facts are injected into the debate to counter misinformation that could lead to damaging, unproven and ineffective government policy decisions.

Banducci said industry-led responsible drinking initiatives such as DrinkWise, ID25 and 'Don't buy it for them' are fundamental to the future prosperity of all retailers and require their continued and unwavering support. 

Earlier, ALSA president Giuseppe Minissale said the unprecedented attendance at the conference of industry leaders Banducci, his opposite number at Coles, Andrew Charlton, and executives from industry bodies including the AHA, the Brewers Association, DSICA and NABIC presented an ideal opportunity for the industry to get on the front foot in dealing with the challenges it faces.

"We'll continue to work with governments around Australia to build a safer and better drinking culture – a record to date that we can be very proud of," Minissale said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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