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Responsible drinking

Discouraging irresponsible drinking

Our response

SABMiller has six core principles on alcohol that guide the decisions we make every day:

  • Our beer adds to the enjoyment of life for the overwhelming majority of our consumers.
  • We care about the harmful effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption.
  • We engage stakeholders and work collectively with them to address irresponsible consumption.
  • Alcohol consumption is for adults and is a matter of individual judgement and accountability.
  • Information provided to consumers about alcohol consumption should be accurate and balanced.
  • We expect our employees to aspire to high levels of conduct in relation to alcohol consumption.

A strong and shared commitment

In response to the call by the WHO and its member states in this strategy, we and other industry leaders have committed to a five-year global action plan. This requires us to strengthen and expand marketing codes and innovate products responsibly; reduce underage drinking; reduce drinking and driving; and enlist the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking. We're confident we can meet the commitments according to the stated timetable.

We support the World Health Organization's Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

In 2013 the UN prepared a draft action plan for the global strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This sets out an inclusive, multi-stakeholder plan for tackling NCDs and associated risk factors including the harmful use of alcohol. We fully support the inclusive approach and have signed up to the World Economic Forum's Healthy Living Charter.

Strengthening and expanding marketing codes of practice

Our Policy on Commercial Communication governs how and where we market our brands. We do not target our brands at underage people, nor do we encourage irresponsible drinking by adults of legal drinking age. For example, we require that commercial communication only be placed where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal drinking age (or 18 if no legal drinking age exists). In Africa, where independent audience demographic data is more sporadic, we're working with interested stakeholders to address the issue.

As more of our messaging moves online, we make sure we engage only legal drinking age consumers by setting up age controls and consumer age affirmation mechanisms.

All our companies have a Sales and Marketing Compliance Committee (SMCC) which reviews all proposed marketing materials for compliance with the Policy on Commercial Communication along with local laws and national self-regulatory requirements. Where materials fail to comply, the SMCC has the authority to reject them or require modification. Over half of our businesses have an independently chaired or audited SMCC and the number is increasing.

Responsible product innovation and consumer information

Our Product Portfolio Policy PDF (0.04Mb) governs how we develop new products or acquire new brands and sets out principles for evaluating the appropriateness of our products. Publicly available, this policy was developed by reviewing evidence involving product innovation and aims to address their current and emerging concerns. For example, In recognition of the scientific debate surrounding the combination of caffeine and alcohol beverages, the Product Portfolio Policy prohibits caffeinated alcohol beverages across the SABMiller Group.

As well as producing quality products our consumers can trust, it's also important to provide accurate and balanced information about those products to enable them to make informed choices. We take a holistic approach to communicating with consumers: where it's not already required, for example, we include messages on our product labels about not drinking when underage, driving or pregnant. Our website provides ingredient and nutrition information for each of our brands along with videos, webinars, interviews and fact sheets on the effects of alcohol on the body and in society. The website attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually.

In Lesotho we worked with the government and NGOs to produce 12 weekly radio programmes on the popular Ultimate FM radio station, incorporating information from Topics covered included underage drinking, drink-driving, alcohol and pregnancy and HIV/Aids.

Progress against 2013 targets

2013 Target Progress

Work with brewers and other alcohol producers to strengthen commercial governance through the development and publishing of industry commitments.

SABMiller (along with 12 other producers of beer, wine and spirits) launched global commitments to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The commitments will be implemented over a five-year time period beginning in 2013, a professionally qualified third party will audit the companies' compliance throughout this time.

SABMiller also launched the Responsible Marketing Pack, a comprehensive initiative to strengthen independent advertising self-regulatory schemes for alcohol beverage marketing by establishing a set of common, rigorous standards for their marketing communications throughout the European Union. It includes three commitments on ensuring that marketing is targeted at consumers over the legal drinking age, alcohol beverage marketing is not of primary appeal to those under drinking age and that there will be tight rules across the industry on social media marketing.

Enhance consumer information about our products in terms of ingredients and nutrients.

The beer information section of was updated to include a total of 312 brands (including variants) sold by SABMiller companies around the world. For each brand we have provided the following:

  • Alcohol by volume (%)
  • Calories (Kcalories)
  • Carbohydrates (g/100ml)
  • Fat (g/100ml)
  • Cereals / Starches (used as ingredients)

Implement an internal audit of compliance with our Policy on Commercial Communications and report year 1 findings.

A Global Audit has been concluded in nine markets (Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Mozambique, South-Africa, Uganda, and Zambia) across four regions to cover compliance with the key elements of the POCC.

2014 targets

  • Work with brewers and other alcohol producers to strengthen commercial governance through the implementation of and public reporting on the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers' Commitments
  • Enhance our commercial governance practice in the field of digital commercial communication to minimise exposure and primary appeal to people under the legal drinking age
  • Make progress in the number and quality of partnerships to help reduce the harmful use of alcohol

Our Alcohol Framework

Our alcohol framework underpins our work and guides our everyday decisions.

Read the framework

Policy on Commercial Communication

Our sales and marketing standards for all our businesses

Download Policy
PDF (0.45Mb)

Front cover of Commerical Communication

Product Portfolio Policy

Our standards for producing or acquiring new brands across all our businesses

Download Policy PDF (0.83Mb)

Front cover of Product Portfolio Policy