A reduction in the average strength of beer has helped the alcohol industry to reduce the amount of alcohol it sells by over one billion units.
That's according to the Portman Group, the responsibility body for drinks producers in the UK, which hailed news that the alcohol industry has hit a government target to take one billion units out of the market two years earlier than planned.
The Portman Group said it welcomed news from the Department of Health that producers and retailers had delivered the Public Health Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network pledge.
Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group and chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network, said: "This is a fantastic result achieved through the collective efforts of producers, retailers, wholesalers and pub groups, supported by government.
"We have exceeded a voluntary target to remove one billion units of alcohol from the UK market by growing a new market for lower alcohol drinks. This is yet more concrete evidence of what can be achieved when government and industry work in partnership, responding to a growing consumer demand for lower alcohol drinks; further proof that our drinking culture is changing."
An updated government report, monitoring the sale of alcohol up to the end of 2013 found that the number of units of alcohol in the market had fallen by 1.9 billion units. A reduction of 1.3 billion of those units is thought to be due to reductions in the ABV of alcohol products, 0.3 billion more than the target one billion reduction by the end of 2015 contained in the Responsibility Deal Pledge.
The reduction in the number of units between 2011 and 2013 has mainly been achieved by reductions in the average strength of beer, which has reduced from 4.42% in 2011 to 4.14% in 2013. This accounted for 1.2 billion of the 1.3 billion total reduction.
Average ABV has decreased in all product categories apart from spirits, where there was a slight increase from 36.85% to 36.92%. Overall the average ABV fell from 7.49% to 7.28% between 2011 and 2013.
As part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal (PHRD), the government worked with the alcohol industry and partners to create 11 collective pledges and 10 individual pledges to support a culture of responsible drinking.