Independent retailers have been urged to stock more low-alcohol beers and wines to play their part in supporting the government’s Responsibility Deal.

Speaking at the Association of Convenience Store’s (ACS) responsibility retailing forum recently, Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth said small retailers should follow the supermarkets in introducing lower alcohol products.

“Businesses need to take responsibility to look at the ABV of the products they’re selling,” said Ashworth, who is co-chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network. “Supermarkets are looking at the ABV of their house wines now, and smaller retailers should take a similar approach.”

The Co-operative Group said it had reduced the ABV of standard own brand bitter from 4% to 3% and introduced a wider range of low alcohol wines and beers, such as Fosters Radler and Carling Zest.

“These products have sold well and have earned their place on the shelf,” said The Co-op’s senior public affairs manager Alison Scowen. “We’ve also introduced an alcohol-free offering alongside lighter beers in the promotion mix.”

Ashworth said ABV was low on the priority list of wine consumers, citing Accolade Wine research showing ABV came 18th out of 23rd in the things people think about when they’re buying wine.