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Global standard for online sales and delivery of alcohol go live as lockdown drinking grows 33%

Shoppers may be spending less as their social lives resume. Image: Adobe Stock

The first-ever global standards for the online sale and delivery of alcoholic beverages goes live this week. This international initiative is focused on supporting consumers’ increasing demands for greater convenience with enhanced standards of responsibility to prevent sale to those underage and to reduce harmful drinking.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of hospitality venues in most countries throughout 2020 resulted in global alcohol sales volumes declining by more than 6% year on year in 2020, there has been an acceleration in the shift to ecommerce with the sale and delivery of alcohol online increasing by 33% globally. In the U.S., eommerce grew by more than 100% with Brazil and Canada seeing growth rates of more than 300%.

In response to this trend, a global partnership of the 12 leading beer, wine, and spirits companies that form the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) and 14 prominent global and regional online retailers, and e-commerce and delivery platforms have identified five key safeguards to help ensure that robust standards are in place throughout the entire supply chain and customer journey to combat harmful drinking.

The standards outlined in the document launched today include:

  • Improving safeguards and security measures that aim to prevent minors from being able to buy alcohol ​
  • Putting in place mechanisms to prevent beer, wine, and spirits being delivered to minors, to individuals showing visible signs of intoxication, or where prohibited by law
  • Providing tools, information, and education, or other support to drivers to empower them to deny delivery
  • Enhancing consumer information and control 
  • Promoting global standards as a resource to support the development of national level codes and practices for the online sale and delivery of alcohol that build on local and national regulation


Albert Baladi, President and CEO of Beam Suntory and Chair of IARD CEO Group, explains: “This partnership reflects the shared determination of leading alcohol producers, online retailers and e-commerce platforms to combat the harmful use of alcohol in all its forms. These global safeguards for alcohol e-commerce cover the entire online purchase journey – starting from the moment a consumer begins the purchase process and travelling all the way through to the moment of delivery, helping ensure these orders don’t reach underage individuals or visibly intoxicated people.”

Henry Ashworth, IARD President and CEO, adds: “This is a true world-first initiative in raising standards of responsibility across the board for e-commerce. This international partnership has worked together tirelessly to set global standards for the online sale and delivery of alcohol beverages, taking further concrete steps towards the elimination of alcohol sales to minors. IARD is proud to have united the world’s leading drinks producers with leading online retailers and e-commerce platforms and we invite others to join us in this landmark collaboration to raise global standards.”

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