Craft brewing capital title under threat

CONCERNS: Emma McCashin of McCashins Brewery says the recommendations would have a major effect on smaller players in ...
Alden Williams

CONCERNS: Emma McCashin of McCashins Brewery says the recommendations would have a major effect on smaller players in the region's industry.

Proposed radical bans on alcohol advertising could have a big impact in Nelson, with even its promotion as the craft brewing capital under threat.

Brewing industry leaders say if "extreme" recommendations from a government forum were adopted, McCashin's Brewery would be banned from hosting its 5km fun run series, the Great Taste Trail could no longer include breweries and wineries, the MarchFest beer festival would not be able to be promoted widely and the Sprig & Fern would be banned from having a van with its brand on the side.

Emma McCashin, spokesperson for the Nelson Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand group, said Nelson Tasman Tourism would also be banned from promoting the region widely as the craft brewing capital.

"The Mussel Inn would need to review its family friendly music concerts; and the many bowls, golf and fishing clubs that receive sponsorship support would no longer be allowed to receive it," she said.

Brewers in the Nelson region are concerned after the Health Promotion Agency and the Ministry of Health met them and other interested parties this month to discuss the recommendations.

They are alarmed at a report on alcohol advertising and sponsorship by a ministerial forum which made 14 recommendations to Justice Minister Amy Adams and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne last December.

These include a ban on all alcohol sponsorship for sports, a ban on alcohol sponsorship at cultural and music events where 10 per cent or more are under the age of 18, a ban on alcohol advertising in general, including social media, where 10 per cent or more of the audience are under 18.

The forum, made up of six members and chaired by former rugby league football coach Graham Lowe, was established by the Government in February last year to work out whether further restrictions would meet the objectives of reducing harmful use of alcohol.

The report stated the forum was not unanimous in all recommendations and there was a view that there was not enough evidence to justify the breadth of the bans.

Adams said after the release of the forum's recommendations that an understanding of their full effect was needed before they were considered.

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"These are complex issues, and a thorough quantification of the implications of the proposals is critical. Accordingly, ministers have asked officials to undertake further work and provide further information," said Adams.

She said the forum should provide more information after further investigation by mid-2015.

McCashin said event organisers from MarchFest, the Arts Festival, Nelson Tasman Tourism and sporting groups attended the meeting to express their concern.

MarchFest organiser Mic Dover told the representatives if only 10 per cent of people attending the popular annual event could be under the age of 18 it would ruin the family-friendly feel and would put more focus on alcohol.

"MarchFest is in its ninth year, it's well established. I wouldn't know how to say to 3000 people you can't bring your families," said Dover.

McCashin said the recommendations would also have a major effect on smaller players in the region's industry.

"Local sports clubs are heavily reliant on alcohol sponsors, if they were to lose them this could have a big impact on them financially."

She said smaller towns like Takaka would be hit because many of their sports teams and clubs were sponsored by local alcohol suppliers.

In the report, an alternative fund was suggested to cover the costs for alcohol sponsorship of sports. But McCashin said it would only be provided for a certain period of time and the logistics around organising which sporting organisations would be eligible would be challenging.

The Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency representatives at the meeting said they were weighing up the impact of the proposals on businesses, tourism and communities before any final decision could be made.

"It's still in early days at the moment, [the representatives] told us it could get to June and they might decide it didn't need to go through at all," said McCashin.

Nelson Craft Brewing Capital of New Zealand Incorporated chairman Doug Donelan said the recommendations posed an interesting dilemma to brewers.

"Everybody understands that we need to find ways to look at issues surrounding young people and pre-loading [with alcoholic beverages] but I don't think a blanket ban on marketing and advertising is going to solve that," he said.

Education was the only way to address a binge-drinking culture in young people today, rather than banning alcohol sponsorship.

 - The Nelson Mail

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