Frank O’Connell: A welcome move from the Irish Government to allow an exemption in its alcohol bill for travel retail, notably on labelling requirements.

IRELAND. The Irish government last month passed wide-ranging legislation governing the sale of alcohol products. But crucially duty free & travel retail has gained an exemption on some key measures, with the unique, global nature of the channel taken into account.

The Public Health Alcohol Act 2018 introduces minimum unit pricing for alcohol products, structural separation of alcohol products in shops, and provides for specific consumer information including health warnings through the use of on-product labelling.

Travel retail has been made exempt from the Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol Products and Structural Separation provisions.

As reported earlier this year, there were particular fears over the labelling requirement, which called for health warnings (taking up to one-third of space on the bottle) in both Irish and English languages. The cost of producing Ireland-compliant labelling, argued campaigners, would have seen many brands withdraw from the market. Travel retail exclusives, produced in limited quantities, would likely be discontinued, they warned.

Under the terms of the final bill, alcohol products in duty free and travel retail shops in Ireland are not required to carry on-product labels. Consumers will instead be informed through in-store notices. These will provide all relevant information required by the legislation, including health warnings.

European Travel Retail Confederation President Frank O’Connell said: “We welcome that the Irish Government, when adopting this legislation, has taken into consideration the specific nature of the duty free and travel retail industry and tailored the legislation accordingly.

“On the issue of minimum pricing and structural separation, these measures are targeted to address concerns to which our industry is not a contributing factor, it is therefore sensible that they would not apply to our retail channel.

“The demand for more and more consumer information is a rising trend across the world, not just for alcohol products. Again we welcome the position taken by the Irish Government to apply a solution for the duty free and travel retail industry that meets government’s policy objectives while not damaging the industry.”

*Note: The measures will be implemented over the coming years. Structural Separation within stores will occur over the next two years and labelling requirements over three years. Minimum Unit Pricing will take place upon the order of the Minister (allowing time for Northern Irish legislation to be put in place to mirror the Republic).