ABFI Statement

Statement by ABFI Chair Maggie Timoney, CEO of Heineken Ireland

The Irish drinks industry is one of the greatest national assets we have. The sector annually generates around €2 billion in revenue for the State, and supports 92,000 jobs throughout Ireland. Our brands are high quality and internationally recognised. Through our sponsorship activity, we support the cultural, artistic and sporting endeavours of the smallest communities and the largest teams across the country.

We are proud of our achievements. But with this position in Irish life comes responsibility. Our industry engages in responsible marketing and promotion, and is governed by some of the strictest regulatory codes in the world. We work with stakeholders to ensure that only adults purchase alcohol, and we favour severe sanctions against adults who help minors to purchase our products. We are completely opposed to drink driving.

Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) is one of the key initiatives supported by ABFI members. Through MEAS the drinks industry is funding a €20 million drinkaware campaign to promote responsible consumption.

The vast majority of Irish people consume alcohol moderately and responsibly. It is in our industry’s interest to ensure that remains the case and to help reduce alcohol misuse, whenever possible.

It is also in our interest to ensure a regulatory regime rooted in the principles of support for entrepreneurship, protection of the environment, community empowerment and firm-but-fair evidence-based regulation.

The policies we espouse have been drafted to deal with very complex problems. There are no simple solutions for dealing with alcohol misuse. It is vital that these issues are handled in a comprehensive and coherent manner.

While some approaches may initially appear attractive, they have been shown to have little or no effect on the problem they are trying to address. A major weakness in this context is an inability to differentiate between those whose drinking is associated with harmful outcomes and those whose drinking is not.

To be effective, alcohol policies must strike a balance and serve the interests of individuals and society alike.

Consumer interests and producer interests must be aligned. By implementing a better policy, it is possible to achieve the need for a thriving economy and maintain a safe environment.

The drinks industry is an important national stakeholder, and our policies reflect our role in Irish life, and the responsibility we bear.