IT MAY be the moment thousands of al fresco tipplers have been waiting for…Buckfast in cans.
The firm behind the controversial tonic wine – which has been blamed for fuelling anti-social behaviour and violence – yesterday announced they are launching the £2.90 tins in time for the barbecue season.
They said the 25cl cans will also help the Government’s anti-booze drive after public health minister Michael Matheson asked for pubs to sell smaller measures.
If the initial production run of 16,000 cans is successful, it will become a permanent fixture alongside the 75cl glass bottle, which sells for around £7.
Stewart Wilson, sales manager for Buckfast’s distribution company J. Chandler, said: “The reason why we wanted to bring out a can is firstly we get asked quite regularly to bring out Buckfast in different shapes and sizes and it’s something we have looked at but never really considered at any great length.
“The public health minister for Scotland called on businesses to promote responsible consumption of alcohol and make smaller measures of wine available to consumers in January.
“That’s when we decided we should look at bringing Buckfast out in a smaller unit.”
The idea originally emerged because Chandler have been working with a Michelin-starred chef who produces food recipes using a 25cl Buckie measure.
Wilson added: “Bringing out any new product can be deemed as a risk in terms of, ‘Will it affect business or detract sales from the bottle?’ So, at this stage, we’re just bringing it out as a limited edition.
“But we do believe it will be successful with the summer months coming in. Some of our customers will be going to barbecues and a chilled can of Buckfast would be the ideal product to take along.”
Wilson insists that the smaller, cheaper can won’t encourage people to binge drink.
He said: “Buckfast is no different to any other alcohol producer and it’s down to the retailer to ensure that they’re selling their alcohol responsibly.”
The wine has been blamed for violence, particularly in Lanarkshire, where most bottles are sold, but the company deny Buckfast is any more to blame than other drinks.
Politicians have urged the firm to reduce the caffeine levels in the drink. It is claimed that one bottle of Buckfast contains about 280mg of caffeine, the equivalent of eight cans of Coke, as well as 15 per cent alcohol by volume.
Labour have proposed limiting the caffeine limit in all alcoholic drinks at 150mg. That would render the wine illegal in its current form.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said last night that they had not called for bottles or cans to be made smaller but are instead working with the alcohol industry to make smaller measures available in bars.
She added: “Clearly, it is important that people have the ability to choose a smaller measure if they wish. However, time and time again, the research proves that affordability is the key factor in the misuse of alcohol and that the most effective way to tackle this is by setting a minimum unit price.
“This is about targeting the drink that is cheap relative to strength, which causes so much harm within communities, often in the most deprived areas of Scotland.”
Police Scotland were recently forced to apologise to the monks who make Buckfast after officers encouraged some retailers not to sell the tonic wine.
The police body promised they would not include Buckfast in bottle-marking schemes without “reasonable grounds”.
Scottish Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell MSP said last night: “It can appear as though the buck is being passed by continually blaming alcohol distributors for problems related to excessive drinking.
“The real issue is the need to educate young people and others about the dangers of over-indulgence and this should be the priority.”
Half of the world’s entire supply of Buckfast is consumed in Scotland.
Dr Peter Rice, chairman of the Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “One of the downsides of a can is, of course, that you can’t close it the way you can a bottle.
“But there are more troublesome drinks than Buckfast. It’s when it’s mixed with other drinks that the real problems start. It is a welcome move to have smaller servings.”
Source: The Daily Record