New rules about selling low-alcohol beer and wine

If you run a supermarket or grocery store that sells low alcohol beer, wine or mead, a recent law change has improved the rules about where you can display them.

This will make it easier for shoppers to find alternatives to full-strength alcohol and provides clarity for retailers.

What were the old rules and what was the problem with them?

From 2013, the law has been that all alcohol displays and promotions in supermarkets and grocery stores could only be in a single area of the store. The problem was that retailers couldn’t legally place low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages in the same area as regular-strength alcohol. This was confusing for retailers and shoppers. It was also a lost opportunity to promote responsible drinking by displaying low-strength alternatives alongside regular strength options.

What’s the new law?

Now, you can choose whether to place, promote and advertise low and non-alcoholic beer, wine and mead inside or outside the single alcohol area in your store.

You’re free to decide, but we suggest you place such beverages and related in-store marketing in the single alcohol area, because they’re promoted — and recognised by shoppers — as low-strength options.

What’s the definition of ‘low alcohol’?

Beer, wine and mead with an alcohol content less than 1.15% ethanol by volume.

What’s the ‘single area’ for alcohol?

The single alcohol area is the only area in your store where you’re allowed to display and promote alcohol. It can’t be at the entrance or checkouts. It also can’t be on the most direct route between the entrance and the main body of the store or between the main body of the store and checkouts.

What about beer and wine that’s stronger than 1.15%?

These products must be displayed in the single alcohol area.

Can I place other non-alcoholic beverages, such as soft drinks, in the single alcohol area?

No. Any drink containing less than 1.15% ethanol by volume which isn’t beer, wine or mead can’t be displayed, advertised or promoted there.
Also, other products that contain alcohol but which aren’t subject to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, can’t be displayed in the single alcohol area. Examples include rice wine for cooking, flavour essences, perfumes or pharmacy products.

Where can I get more information?

You can check section 5 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Display of Low-alcohol Beverages and Other Remedial Matters) Amendment Act 2016.

For more information about the single alcohol area, see sections 112-115 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

You may also want to get legal advice to ensure you comply with the law.