Mighty Ape defends sales of alcohol-free beer
Mighty Ape isn't restricting who it sells alcohol-free beer to, and some observers say that's socially irresponsible.
Mark Fidler, a wine industry worker from Tauranga, noticed a post on his facebook feed advertising the sale of Asahi Dry Zero, an alcohol-free beer, to celebrate Dry July.
Mark says he found the sale of the alcohol-free beer concerning and "anyone of any age with access to the internet can jump on their website and order it".
"I'm a big fan of Mighty Ape and I have been for a long time. I was surprised to see a product like that there. I mean it specialises in games, toys and books.They're aiming at children and teenagers mostly."
Auckland Council's manager of alcohol licensing Peter Knight said that any drink with less than 1.15 per cent alcohol content was considered alcohol-free, and therefore didn't fall under local council's remit.
But Fidler said Mighty Ape had still marketed it like an alcoholic product.
Chief marketing officer at Mighty Ape Gracie MacKinlay says there are no licensing issues around zero alcohol beer, and Asahi Dry Zero was a no-alcohol beverage.
The company had consulted with the district licensing authority at Auckland Council, which confirmed that no liquor license was required, she said.
"However, as Asahi Dry Zero is a non-alcohol alternative to beer targeted at adult consumers our marketing communications for this product are restricted to adults. This is not a product that we would market to children," says Gracie.
Mark says from the "moral" side of things it was irresponsible.
Facebook restricts accounts to people aged 13 and over.
Alcohol Watch executive director Dr Nicki Jackson says the main issue was the branding of non-alcoholic beer and other similar drinks to look like alcoholic products.
"They look identical, and we've been very concerned for a long time that although these are a positive shift towards lowering our drinking culture they do increase the branding of alcohol to young people."
Increased exposure to branding led to earlier onset of drinking and heavier drinking in young people, says Nicki.
"So we would be concerned if these were marketed to young people or even if young people were exposed to this alcohol branding.
"Mighty Ape would be publicly available. For any other website you would have to enter your date of birth before entering the site. That's the law if you're selling alcohol and these things look like alcohol."