Congress or Symposium?

Each year, our spiritsEUROPE Congress offers the opportunity to debate key topics with the help of external speakers.


The first discussion was on the hot topic of “safe levels of drinking.”  Every day, consumers face a number of decisions about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  What foods should they eat?  How often should they exercise?  How much alcohol is safe to consume?  Information comes from health professionals, governments and industry: it changes over time, sometimes drastically.  Does the information change because of new science?  Or for more dogmatic reasons?  What are the purposes of drinking guidelines – to inform people, change behaviour or to demonize industry...?  Who are the targets of those guidelines - all drinkers, heavy drinkers, or the policy-makers themselves…?  These are the questions our speakers attempted to answer.


The second session offered insights on consumers of our products from the “Millennials” to the “Over 50s.”  Every manufacturer looks to uncover just what makes these groups shop, choose, and spend.  But there is more than one thing that drives today’s consumers.  We learned that in fact they are a fascinating, powerful, and often confusing bunch whose purchasing decisions are driven not just by how much money is in their bank account.  We explored what drives consumers’ choices, how they consume, where they consume and how they are willing to interact with brands and products.  It is clear that diversity is key, there is a demand for authenticity, a new experience and the need to be recognised as unique!


The topic of the third panel is traditionally related to the host country.  This time we had the opportunity to exchange with Greek government authorities as well as with representatives of the Greek tourism and retail sectors on the negative impact high excise duties have had on growth, employment and health due to the resulting high level of illicit alcohol that now exists in the Greek market.  Indeed, between 2009 and 2011, the Greek spirits sector has faced a cumulative increase of 125% in the rate paid on their products.  On top of that, the VAT rate has risen from 19% to 23%.  A red carpet to the criminals, smugglers and bootleggers.