The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is highly sceptical when Heineken Malaysia Bhd announced in June that it will be launching Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic malt beverage in July 2019. In fact, it was planning to sell the product in 14 markets across Europe, Russia, and Israel.
Although Heineken said that it is going to tap the global trend of moderate alcohol consumption where a “non-alcoholic beverage can now be enjoyed”, CAP thinks otherwise.
The non-alcoholic malt beverage is not completely free from alcohol as it is stated on its label in small print that it contains “NOT MORE THAN ALC. 0.005% VOL.” as we are made to believe. It is bottled in the same green bottle as the normal Heineken beer.
Beverages that taste and looks like beer can be a way to ‘coax’ people to switch to beers over time. Youths may initially drink non-alcoholic beverage and later venture into real beer to experience the ‘kick’ of the alcohol content.
This is contrary to the belief that people would switch to ‘0.0’ to stay sober for the drive home or to abstain from alcohol yet in the company of drinkers. This is because people go to the pub to drink alcohol. The malt beverage’s recommended price is RM9 for 250ml and this is pricier than a regular 325 ml beer. With the price, how can the manufacturer convince everybody that the malt beverage is going to convert drinkers?
We urge the government not to allow the sale of ‘non-alcoholic malt beverages’ because they are a gateway to alcohol consumption by youths.
Press Statement, 15 July 2019