Belgium-based InBev, the world’s largest volume brewer, aims to see beer sold in thousands more outlets in Great Britain, such as McDonalds, Starbucks, cinemas, gas stations and video rental shops.
Steve Cahillane, head of InBev in the UK, indicated he would like to see Britain adopt a more continental style of drinking, such as in France or Belgium, where alcohol is available in many McDonalds outlets.
The suggestion immediately drew a negative response from anti-alcohol groups, who say alcohol should not be available in venues where many customers are under 18.
Cahillane said there is no evidence to suggest easier availability of alcohol leads to more irresponsible drinking. “It is wrong to couple the availability of alcohol with misuse of alcohol. When you look at other cultures with open access to alcohol, you do see responsible consumption. It takes away the image of alcohol as forbidden fruit and removes the idea that you have to go out on drinking sessions,” he said.
Srabani Sen, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, countered: “Alcohol misuse causes harm to millions of families in Britain. We should be doing all we can to minimize this harm, not finding more ways for people to drink. To suggest Britain would move to a continental-style drinking culture simply by selling alcohol in McDonalds is deeply inadequate. Far more important than finding new places to drink is educating the public on safe drinking levels.”