In the last 2 years there has been a dramatic increase in alcoholic drinks specifically aimed at women: ready made cocktails, fruit flavoured beer, skinny wine, low-carb spirits and now, an abundance of pink potions! But with women’s alcohol consumption in the UK at the highest it’s ever been and incidence of liver disease among women on the rise, is pink gin the latest alcoholic insult to women’s health?
Pink gin: because you’re worth it!
You must have seen these tempting products: botanical flavours, hand written labels, intricate cut glass bottles and pink gin within. A demure, modern twist on a dusty standard.
Edinburgh Gin’s rhubarb and ginger gin liqueur is a delight (I seem to recall). It’s always been a rather ‘girly’ affair, not least of all for its sweetness and cute bottle. HOWEVER, take a look at this!
Did anything ever scream, WOMAN more than a pink bottle of sweet gin liqueur in a pink box exploding with pink flowers? I know, I know! Not all women like pink. In the same way that not all men like beer and football but that won’t stop Carling sponsoring the Premier League.
I love how Edinburgh Gin have reframed this drink….
We have coupled up two of Valentine’s most sought after gifts – flowers and gin.
And you thought it was chocolates and flowers. No, it’s gin!!
A swift excursion to the Co-op yesterday (how much milk do teenagers drink!?) and I was greeted at the door by a large display of pink gin. Co-op’s own “Indulgent Pink Gin” and next to that Gordon’s “Premium Pink Gin” (£16.50 compared to £14.00 for the non pink version, cos you’re a woman and you’ll pay more).
Remember when there used to be chocolates and sweets by the tills? It’s now more likely to be prosecco and fancy gin. At one point Asda pledged to limit all alcohol to the drinks aisle. However, when none of the other supermarkets joined them Asda put the booze back out front again. Well, you would wouldn’t you.
Pink gin has revived an old hag
Gin sales in the UK are now worth £2.2bn having more than doubled over a 5 year period since 2013. It’s gone from mother’s ruin to yummy mummy juice and the alcohol industry is punching the air.
When Beefeater launched their pink gin last summer they did so with a strawberry scented poster campaign in a London Underground station. Actual smelly posters!
Don’t be in any doubt, these drinks are aimed at women! Women, who are responsible for 70-80% of consumer spending. Of course we are a target.
And I don’t blame Beefeater or Gordon’s for expanding into new markets. Edinburgh Gin’s drinks are yummy with botanical ingredients we can all appreciate. But I can’t help feel that women, rather than being the beneficiaries of a craft revolution are actually the victims of a cunning industry, preying on an ’emancipated’ sisterhood.
The inequality of biology
We may be liberated, strong individuals capable of making our own decisions but we’re still biologically different from men. Research shows that women develop addiction quicker than men.
For the first time ever, British women now match men in their alcohol consumption. Liver disease in female drinkers is on the rise. I know from bitter experience how addictive alcohol is. A wine bottle opened can be finished in a night and more will flow throughout the week. Throw in some pink gin and I’m Alice in Wonderland!
What does ‘moderation’ even mean?
Who knows what moderation actually means? The World Health Organisation say there is no safe level of alcohol, whereas the Chief Medical Officer states 14 units (one and a half bottles of wine a week) is the max for men or women.
According to a study conducted by the Alcohol Health Alliance in 2018, only 16% of drinkers were aware of these recommendations, meaning that 84% of us are drinking in blissful ignorance.
Do you know how many calories you should consume a day, roughly? I bet you have a vague idea of the calorific content of various products. But you may be sketchy on the alcohol by volume details of your favourite tipple or, more importantly, what percentage of your weekly allowance that bottle accounts for.
Did you just consume 80% of your weekly dose? Or was it 120%? Wouldn’t it be good to know?
All this confusion suits the drinks companies very well but this surely has to change. Women can no longer be viewed as a ‘growth market’. We are intelligent beings who, given the correct information, would surely prefer to make informed choices.
DRINKAWARE is just not enough
To my mind the best solution to all this confusion is clear labelling on the front of alcoholic drinks packaging. Unless drinks manufacturers are forced to put clear health guidelines on the front of their products (as food companies do) they won’t bother. Yes, it will alter the aesthetics of the label design and maybe that will affect sales. But public health is kind of a big deal.
Currently most alcohol companies put the ‘Drinkaware’ logo on their bottles and leave it at that. Drinkaware is an organisation funded by the drinks industry. It advises Public Health England on public alcohol consumption. Conflict of interest doesn’t even cover it! Here’s an interesting Guardian article on the subject.
Andrew Misell from Alcohol Change UK explained that the Drinkaware logo on alcohol products acts as a ‘figleaf’. Of poor labelling he said,
‘When you challenge the industry on this matter they will tell you that they are sending people to Drinkaware for alcohol advice. But it seems quite implausible to me that anyone, while doing their weekly shop would contact Drinkaware for alcohol guidelines…..The alcohol industry is not interested in making the information clear.’
The government know exactly what’s going on
Last year the NSPCC reported a 30% increase in calls from children concerned about a parent’s drinking. 1 in 5 children in the UK live with a parent who is alcohol dependent. 1 in 5! And the government are tackling this with a fund of £6m, a drop in the £10bn alcohol tax revenue ocean!
The immense profits being generated by exhausted mums and hard working women being enticed to drink pink with no health warning and no reason to hold back seems somehow criminal. It’s irresponsible, cynical and could so easily be legislated.
Women are not a resource to be exploited to prop up the drinks industry. We are not just a market. We need to demand more for ourselves, for those who depend upon us and stop pandering to this seemingly unstoppable monster, which has nothing but profit in its sites.