Alcopops are sweet alcoholic drinks consisting of a mixture of distilled spirits and lemonades, fruit juices or other alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. The term «distilled spirit» includes both spirits and fermented alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, wine, cider) which have undergone technical treatment that no longer corresponds to a normal manufacturing or production process for fermented alcoholic beverages. Alcopops have an alcohol strength of more than 1.2% vol., but less than 15% vol. They contain at least 50g of sugar per litre, expressed as invert sugar or other sweetener, and generally also other ingredients such as flavouring or colouring agents. They arrive on the market mixed and ready for consumption in bottles or other containers. Eligible categories of clients.
To be classified as an alcopop, in general, the following conditions must be cumulatively met:
- Alcohol content under 15% vol.
- Minimum sugar content of 50g per litre; all sugars and artificial sweeteners must be taken into account in calculating this sugar content (expressed as invert sugar; must be determined on the basis of a laboratory analysis)
- Mixed and ready for consumption
- Product packaging aimed at young people (colourful packaging designed to appeal to young people)
- Low price
- Sweetness of the drink: in a taste test, a clear sweetness must be detected. (Exclusion criterion: bitterness)
- Consistency of the liquid: not viscous
- Bottle size < 0.5 litre
In accordance with Article 23bis paragraph 2bis of the Alcohol Act (SR 680), alcopops are subject to a special tax. This is CHF 116.00 per litre of pure alcohol.
So-called «fermented pops» are sweet mixed drinks based on fruit wine, grape wine, beer or mead, with an alcohol content of more than 1.2% vol. but less than 15% vol. The sugar content is 50 g/l or more. Fermented pops are flavoured, whereby the addition of alcohol through the flavouring may not increase the alcohol content in the final product by more than 0.5% vol.
The product may contain added fruit juices, colouring agents, acidifying agents, opacifiers, flavour enhancers, etc.
A precise classification can only be made on the basis of manufacturer's data, recipes, manufacturing descriptions, specification sheets of the flavourings/essences and, if necessary, laboratory analyses.
«Hard seltzers» are alcoholic, carbonated beverages to which flavouring agents are added. They are marketed as lifestyle products that are low in sugar and calories but are nevertheless alcoholic. The alcohol is usually obtained by fermenting malt or sugar. These products are not subject to the Alcohol Act, either when imported or when produced in Switzerland, and are therefore not subject to spirits tax.
However, there are also hard seltzers to which flavourings that contain ethanol or ethyl alcohol in other forms are added. These products are subject to spirits tax (normal rate) as soon as the addition of ethyl alcohol or flavourings that contain ethanol increases the alcohol content of the end product by more than 0.5% vol.