National | Alcohol

50-year-old denied buying 0% booze because shopping with 16-year-old daughter

Countdown requires buyers of zero-alcohol products to be over 18, a "bemusing" fact for older customers caught out without ID. Photo / NZME

A 50-year-old man is "bemused" at being unable to buy zero-alcohol beer from an Auckland supermarket because he was with his 16-year-old daughter.

Paul Slater was doing his grocery shopping at Countdown Browns Bay, after having gone out for breakfast with his daughter.

"I saw a pack of Sawmill alcohol-free beers and took it to the self-checkout. A lady asked my daughter for ID, and of course, she's 16 so she can't buy alcohol, I wasn't arguing with that," he said.

"But they wouldn't sell me the alcohol-free beer as a 50-year-old. I thought there was a slight sense of irony in that."

Slater, who works for NZME, took the incident in good humour but does admit he was "dangerously close to being a Karen" when he pushed back on purchase restrictions for zero-alcohol products.

"I will say that the staff were perfectly reasonable and polite, even apologetic. It's just store policy," he added.

A spokesperson for Countdown Browns Bay said, "When a restricted product like zero-alcohol beer is rung up on the checkout screen an attendant needs to authorise it. You have to be over 18 to buy it.

"Under the law, if we think you look under 25, and if there is more than one person with you, we need to check everybody's IDs."

Slater and his daughter are not the only people to have run into trouble buying zero-alcohol products.

It is not illegal to sell zero-alcohol drinks to anyone under 18, but supermarkets are free to set their own restrictions.

This policy is in effect across all of Countdown's stores. Some zero-alcohol beverages require ID to purchase at Foodstuffs' New World and Pak'nSave supermarkets as well.

Zero-alcohol options started to gain popularity in New Zealand around 2014, with the founding of Seedlip, a British "distilled non-alcoholic spirits" producer.

Breweries and vineyards in New Zealand have started chasing the low- and zero-alcohol market themselves. The shift towards alcohol alternatives is credited to a growing concern for health and wellbeing.

For those like Slater, who hasn't drunk alcohol in the past two to three years, the advice from supermarkets is to "bring ID".