Publication Details

Jones, S. C. & Barrie, L. R. (2011). RTDs in Australia: expensive designer drinks or cheap rocket fuel?. Drug and Alcohol Review, 30 (1), 4-11.


Introduction and Aims. The ready-to-drink (RTD) market is growing rapidly, and this product category has been shown to be particularly appealing to young drinkers. The purpose of this study was to identify and describe the range and availability of RTDs available in New South Wales (NSW) (including metropolitan, regional and rural areas), with a particular focus on the variations in alcohol content and pricing. Design and Methods. A total of 52 alcohol outlet audits were conducted across nine locations, including metropolitan, regional and rural New South Wales. Trained auditors recorded the RTDs for sale in each outlet, including product characteristics and prices for each product, and overall fridge/store space allocated to RTDs. Results. Across the 52 bottle shops audited, 150 individual RTD alcohol products were identified, ranging from 4.8% to 7.5% alcohol by volume and from 1.0 to 2.7 standard drinks (SD) per unit. When purchased in multipacks (typically four or six units), the cost per SD ranged from $1.95 to $3.70, decreasing to as low as $1.22 per SD when on special. Discussion and Conclusions. The proliferation of high-strength RTDs and the substantial discounting of multipack purchases means that RTDs can no longer be seen as expensive low-strength sweet-flavoured drinks targeted at female drinkers, but as a broader product category that includes high-strength male-targeted brands. There is a need for further research to examine young people's preferences for these different product types; and consideration of policies, alongside price-based interventions, that address broader marketing strategies.



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