Saturday, February 18, 2012
Brewer pulls high-alcohol beer from Alberta shelves
EDMONTON — A jumbo-sized brand of extra-potent beer will no longer be distributed in Alberta as part of an effort to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in Edmonton, Molson Coors Canada announced Friday.
"Molson Coors Canada will no longer be distributing Black Label Big 10 in Edmonton or the province of Alberta," Andrew Stordeur, the company's director of sales for Alberta, said Friday at a news conference where city officials also launched an alcohol-awareness campaign.
"At Molson Coors Canada, we do believe we have a duty to our consumers and our communities to encourage responsible choices and we felt by delisting Black Label Big 10 we're demonstrating that commitment today."
The 1.18-litre bottles of beer contain 10.1 per cent alcohol, which makes them three times the size of a typical bottle of beer with twice the alcohol content. Black Label Big 10 has been on the market about 10 years and sales are "significant," Stordeur said, although he wouldn't provide sales numbers.
Molson Coors decided to pull the brand after Edmonton's Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) surveyed people who drink on the streets in the inner-city McCauley area as part of an effort to curb alcohol-driven violence. Survey results showed large, cheap bottles of high-alcohol beer contribute to the problem. Forty-five per cent of the people interviewed said they preferred Black Label Big 10 beer, available for just over $5, the survey showed.
After the survey, Molson Coors raised the price by almost 20 per cent then stopped distributing Black Label Big 10 about three weeks ago. Retailers can no longer order the product in Alberta, although some bottles might remain on store shelves until they are sold, Stordeur said.
"Once they run out, that's it. It's finished."
Molson Coors is now reviewing whether the company should keep distributing the product in other provinces, Stordeur said.
Stordeur joined Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht, Mayor Stephen Mandel and Kris Andreychuk of NET on Friday in McCauley School, where officials also launched an alcohol awareness campaign designed to let people know exactly how much beer they are drinking when they consume a supersized bottle.
The "1=WHAT?" campaign notifies consumers and liquor retailers that drinking some brands of 40-ounce beer is the same as consuming seven regular cans of beer.
The manager at Crown Liquor said he increased prices a couple of months ago on the 40-ounce beer by about 50 cents and has been talking with police in an effort to help the violence-reduction strategy. Problems the store had with some customers have improved, said Harpreet Kounsil.
"They were just drinking a lot in the parking lot, creating trouble, panhandling, harassing my customers and me as well many times," Kounsil said.
Within the downtown area, 43 per cent of calls to police are for alcohol-related incidents, Knecht said.
Black Label Big 10 is no longer in the cooler at the nearby Royal Imperial Liquor. However, several customers could be seen buying other jumbo brands just after noon Friday, while members of NET were at the store to distribute posters and public-awareness material.
Cliff Herman, 47, bought a 40-ounce beer that contains 11 per cent alcohol.
"It's cheaper. For five bucks, you can't go wrong," Herman said. "It's strong beer."
An addictions counsellor with Alberta Health Services praised Molson Coors for the move, but cautioned against "knee-jerk" reactions that would cut off the supply of cheap alcohol in the city's core. That could cause alcohol-induced seizures for people with alcohol addictions, prompt an increase in robberies or cause people to look for alcohol in other products, said Patrick Teghtmeyer.
"It's nice to see some involvement by many players but it's a very complex social problem and we need complex solutions."
Posted by RallyPoint/6 at 9:01 AM