Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Harpers snap survey: Removing 250ml wouldn’t damage sales

Published:  24 January, 2024

Following a recent University of Cambridge study, which found that removing 250ml servings of wine by the glass cut consumption by almost 8%, Harpers launched a snap survey, to see how such a measure might affect the trade.

Between 19-22 January, Harpers surveyed 32 wholesalers, wine brands, indies and hospitality venues and found that:

  • 58% of the trade would not expect the removal of the largest serving size of wine by-the-glass to be damaging to sales
  • 56% would advocate for the removal of the largest serving size of wine by-the-glass
  • 69% think proposals to increase the range of by-the-glass measures is a good idea
  • 90% believe consumers are more influenced by price than health factors when ordering by-the-glass

Several respondents suggested they didn’t sell 250ml glasses anyway, whilst others stated smaller servings might encourage customers to order more variety or upscale to a bottle if looking for quantity.

However, when asked if they would advocate for the removal of the largest serving of wine by-the-glass, 56% of respondents said no whilst 44% replied yes. Many cited consumer choice as an endorsement for 250ml, whilst one respondent said, “If the outlet also offers purchase by the bottle, it seems hypocritical to remove an intermediate serve size”.

The prevailing theme among those happy to remove the largest serving size was that 250ml is too much for one glass, encourages binge drinking, and, if it’s a white wine, would likely go warm. 

Meanwhile, 69% of respondents said that proposals to increase the range of by-the-glass measures would be a good idea, citing greater consumer choice with lower measure options, such as 100ml, a useful entry point for younger consumers.

The Harpers survey was in response to research conducted by the University of Cambridge, which found that removing large wine measures in pubs, bars and restaurants cuts drinking by 7.6% as part of a study looking into the impact of portion size on consumer health.

The study was conducted in 21 licensed premises (mainly pubs) in England to see whether removing the largest serving of wine by-the-glass over four weeks would impact how much wine was consumed.

Cambridge University described the results as a “promising intervention for decreasing alcohol consumption across populations [which] merits consideration as part of alcohol licensing regulations”.

The research, which was carried out between September 2021 and May 2022, found no evidence that sales of beer and cider increased, suggesting that people did not compensate for their reduced wine consumption by drinking alcoholic alternatives. There was also no evidence that it affected total daily revenues, implying that participating licensed premises did not lose money as a result of removing the largest serving size for glasses of wine, most likely due to the higher profit margins of smaller serving sizes of wine. 

First author Dr Eleni Mantzari, from the University of Cambridge, said: “It looks like when the largest serving size of wine by the glass was unavailable, people shifted towards the smaller options, but didn’t then drink the equivalent amount of wine.

“People tend to consume a specific number of ‘units’ – in this case glasses – regardless of portion size. So, someone might decide at the outset they’ll limit themselves to a couple of glasses of wine, and with less alcohol in each glass they drink less overall.”

The primary focus of the Cambridge study was to provide statistically meaningful consumption data concerning health, rather than a pub’s revenue. However, 90% of respondents to the Harpers survey suggested that consumers are more influenced by price than health factors when ordering wine by-the-glass.

Several commented that a consumer had likely already made their health choices before entering the venue and that financial factors feel more impactful in the short-term than health concerns.