New Zealand Law Society - Low-alcohol beer heading for supermarkets

Low-alcohol beer heading for supermarkets

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Parliament has given a third reading to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Display of Low-alcohol Beverages and Other Remedial Matters) Amendment Bill.

This makes three minor changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. It will come into force on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

It amends the definition of "working day" in section 5 of the principal Act so that a working day does not include a Monday after a weekend on which either Waitangi Day or Anzac Day falls. This reflects the changes to public holidays made by the Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Act 2013.

Section 114 of the principal Act is amended to to allow for low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beer, wine, or mead to be displayed, promoted, or advertised within the "single-area" of a supermarket. Low-alcohol beer, wine, and mead is defined as any beer, wine, or mead permitted to be sold in supermarkets that contains less than 1.15% ethanol by weight.

The amendment came about because the “single-area” of supermarkets is the one area in a supermarket where alcohol can be displayed for sale. Until now, low alcohol and non-alcoholic beer, wine, and mead products have not been able to be displayed in the single-area of supermarkets because they do not fall within the definition of alcohol.

Section 28 of the principal Act is amended to clarify that a company within the meaning of the Companies Act 1993 can hold an on-licence, off-licence, or special licence. This is because Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act lists only body corporates as being able to hold a licence. 

The bill was introduced on 7 December 2015 and given a first reading on 5 May 2016. The Justice and Electoral Committee received 30 submissions and released a report on 23 September 2016, recommending that it be passed.