Alcohol Policy Statement


Alcohol Policy Statement - Introduction

Responsibility is at the heart of our alcohol policy. We want to produce, market and sell beer in ways that have a positive impact on society. Our policy demonstrates respect for view of those outside of the beer industry.

Promoting awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of alcohol - to encourage informed consumers to be accountable for their own actions - is one of the most important challenges we face.

The objectives of our alcohol policy are as follows
  • To promote responsible consumption of alcohol
  • To help prevent misuse and abuse of alcohol
  • To ensure responsible consumption of beer remains socially acceptable
  • To enhance the sustainability of the Heineken business.

Our alcohol policy is based on self-regulation. The one way to tackle alcohol abuse is to use the expertise, authority and influence of the Heineken Group and others in our industry to promote responsible consumption of alcoholic products. We can make sure our advertising and marketing does not, even unwittingly, suggest inappropriate consumption. We can work governments and non-governmental organisations to produce accurate, unbiased information about responsible consumption. Self-regulation based on mutual trust is the best way forward.

Our alcohol policy supports a targeted approach. The few who drink alcohol irresponsibly create problems for themselves and others. The alcohol is not the cause of the problem. It is the way in which these individuals consume the product. Targeted strategies - designed to educate and remind consumers about the effects and risks of alcohol - have a much higher chance of success because they tackle the problem at its root. Our strategies are designed to help consumers make the right decisions about when to drink and when not to drink.

Our Heineken Alcohol Policy Statement (HAPS) sets the standards and parameters for our policy on alcohol-related issues. HAPS contains eight ruling principles that promote responsible consumption of alcohol amongst beer drinkers.

HAPS is used by all affiliated Heineken companies to formulate local policies.

Heineken Alcohol Policy Statement

  1. Responsible consumption of beer is consistent with the maintenance of a balanced and positive lifestyle for adults who choose to drink.
  2. The informed individual is responsible for his / her own behaviour.
  3. Heineken is committed to raising awareness regarding responsible consumption.
  4. We demand responsible behaviour of all our employees around the world.
  5. Heineken companies ensure their commercial activities meet legal requirements and do not encourage irresponsible consumption.
  6. We want to help prevent misuse and abuse through dialogue and action.
  7. Implementation of the Heineken Alcohol Policy is mandatory.
  8. We report on our actions related to our Heineken alcohol Policy.

Statements About Beer

Beer is a genuine part of life

Beer is a natural drink created by brewing starch-rich raw materials such as barley or wheat with natural flavourings such as hops. Another important raw material of beer is water. Over a period of time, the combined ingredients ferment, producing alcohol in the process.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the first beers were produced by accident. Barley was buried in pots to encourage the germination of grains. When water leaked into the pots, the malt mixture inside fermented as a result of its exposure to airborne yeast. The end product was a basic beer with a low level of alcohol. Today beer is widely available and enjoyed in most countries and cultures around the world.

Consumers take responsibility for their consumption patterns

Cultural attitudes, religious beliefs and legislation call all influence behaviour, but ultimately people decide for themselves whether to drink or not. If people consume alcohol inappropriately, they become a potential danger to themselves and others. In most countries where alcoholic beverages are permitted, people are educated about what it is and how it affects the human body. This education is necessary to help them drink responsibly.

We cannot define responsible drinking solely in terms of units of alcohol consumed. There is only one certain rule that applies to all consumers - male or female, large or small: Always drink in moderation, at the right time, in the right place and for the right reasons.

In order to inform and remind consumers about the use of alcohol, the Heineken group is including a massage on all bottles and cans worldwide that invites consumers to visit a newly developed Heineken responsible consumption website:

Informing employees, clients & consumers

As one of the worlds leading brewing groups, we support efforts to in form and remind consumers about the benefits and potential problems associated with drinking alcoholic beverages. We are happy to provide and to support the provision of this information because we know the best way to promote responsible drinking is to improve consumers understanding of the use and the effects of alcohol.

We support targeted information campaigns for consumers, distributors, customers and employees. At the heart of all these campaigns in the massage that while beer drinking can be part of a healthy and positive lifestyle for many adults, irresponsible consumption or alcohol or abuse of alcohol can present health, safety and social risks.

What do we mean when we talk about irresponsible consumption of alcohol? We often refer to alcohol misuse to describe situations in which alcohol is consumed at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons or in inappropriate locations. Drinking and driving is a prime example of alcohol misuse; so is drinking at work.

We also use the term alcohol abuse. By this we mean 'out-of-control' or excessive drinking - drinking bouts marked by a lack of personal restraint. This kind of drinking can lead to alcohol dependency and may cause chronic disease or even death.

Every employee is our ambassador

Our employees are all ambassadors for the Heineken Group - they represent our company and its values. It is vitally important that they set good example for consumers, and the world outside of Heineken, by the way in which they regard and use alcohol. At the same time, everyone who works for Heineken must behave responsibly at work. Our alcohol & Work policy states this categorically and helps all affiliated companies develop and implement effective strategies.

The management and employees of Heineken companies are jointly responsible for implementing the policy. The Heineken head office provides useful information, resources, advice and support, but there is no doubt the main focus for the policy is at a local level.

Cool@Work is an employee information and support programme. It brings together managers from Heineken affiliated companies around the world to attend informational workshops. The goal of the Cool@Work programme is to be improve safety and health at work, to ensure responsible alcohol consumption and create awareness, commitment and ambassadorship amongst employees. It has four primary aims:

  • To improve safety at work and during work-relate activities;
  • To build commitment to our alcohol policy and create responsible drinking ambassadors;
  • To provide effective intervention in any cases of alcohol misuse or abuse;
  • To encourage Heineken employees to live and breathe the Alcohol Policy in their daily lives.

Responsible Commercial Communication

All Heineken operating and affiliated companies are commercial businesses. We make money by brewing, marketing and selling great beer: Heineken, the worlds most international beer and a number of excellent local brands. We have a responsibility to our shareholders and our employees to maintain Heineken a successful, profitable business.

Marketing and promoting our products to customers - or 'commercial communication' - is vital to our growth strategy. Consumers have a right to make their own choices. We also take responsibility for our marketing. That is why we published Rules & Guideline on Responsible Commercial Communications to outline how all external Heineken communications such as web text, broadcast advertisement and print advertising can comply with our alcohol policy. In other words, the guidelines ensure none of our marketing materials inadvertently encourage alcohol abuse or misuse.

This responsible approach sets a good example and will have positive influence on public attitudes towards alcohol misuse and abuse. It also demonstrates clearly that self-regulation of the alcohol industry is the best way to prevent inappropriate advertising and marketing messages.

Heineken participates in dialogues with governments, health & safety authorities. As a responsible business and a good corporate citizen, Heineken companies strive to maintain open and respectful relationships with government, international legislative bodies, non-governmental agencies, professional bodies and other socially concerned organisations.

Alcohol misuse and abuse are public health and safety issues that require a concerted effort to resolve. Heineken works with experts in the medical, social, scientific and economic fields to come up with solutions to the problems caused by abuse and misuse.

Our Alcohol Policy supports a targeted approach to the preventing the problems associated with alcohol misuse or abuse. It aims to reduce misuse and abuse at the individual level by encouraging and supporting consumer responsibility.

Implementation of the Heineken Alcohol Policy is mandatory While the country units of the Heineken Group can take into account the local cultural and political circumstances, the basic elements of the alcohol policy must be implemented globally. Responsible drinking is an issue that must be addressed in very market where we operate.

We strongly encourage all Heineken affiliated businesses, such as those in which we own a minority stake, to adopt the Heineken alcohol policy, implement and sustain the alcohol & Work programme and ensure they comply with the Heineken rules and guidelines for responsible communication.

We also work to create partnerships with local governments and NGOs to help educate consumers, but we cannot force these organisations to cooperate. In any event, we can promote responsible drinking with our industry partners, even when local groups are not involved.

We report on our actions relates to our Heineken Alcohol Policy

We do not just record our alcohol policy in dry, formal reports that no one wants to read. We build two-way communication using the reporting process to create and sustain dialogue with our stakeholders. We tell them what we are doing; we ask them to comment on our actions, make suggestions and help us identify future partners.

Our Sustainability Report will become a centrepiece of this new, dynamic approach. We also spread the word via our corporate website, brochures, speeches, presentations and interviews.

In truth, every commercial communication, in print, on screen or in person, is a potential opportunity to further the discussion about responsible drinking.

HEINEKEN Alcohol Policy Initiatives

Cool @ Work Alcohol & Work

In the past months, we have updated the content of the Alcohol Work programme. In the next few years, the programme will be introduced and the refresher course offered throughout the company. Human resources will serve as programme manager and Health Affairs will provide the content.

Manual Manual Rules & Guidelines

The manual, Rules & Guidelines on Responsible Commercial Communications, which places commercial communication in the context of Heinekens alcohol policy, is designed to prevent our advertising messages unintentionally promoting irresponsible alcohol use.

Rules & Guidelines training tool

We have developed an on-line training tool that can be sent to the commercial staff of the operating companies via e-mail. Each training session ends by testing the recipient understands of the Rules & Guidelines. The tool generates reports that can be used for auditing purpose. The training programme, which began in 2004, will be implemented in all operating companies by the end of 2005.

Enjoy Heineken Responsibly (HER) website

We have launched a separate to educate and remind consumers about responsible alcohol consumption. It provides substantial information about the effects of consuming alcohol and documents responsible consumption programs available through Heineken. Thai website is now live!

Enjoy Heineken Responsibly backlabel

All back labels of the Heineken brand are being redesigned in the 'silver label' project. All bottles, cans and secondary packaging will carry the message directing consumers to the HER website. The first bottles with the HER message went onto shelves in late 2004 in the East Coast markets of the US.

Merry Xmas Enjoy Heineken Responsibly tv commercial

In Taiwan we have launched a tv commercial that directs consumers to the HER website. The combination of the two media is one of the unique ways in which we reinforce our message of responsible consumption.