NSW ‘Draconian’ Liquor Laws Freezing Out the Alcohol Popsicle Business

Draconian liquor laws in NSW are preventing rapid expansion of a Sydney start-up business marketing high-end, alcohol-infused ice blocks, the manufacturing company claims.

A founder of Sydney-based business, IYC POP blames NSW Liquor legislation for inhibiting advertising, halting their expansion and forcing them to review their operations.

“We live in constant fear that they’ll shut us down,” said Chloe Kim, the co-founder of IYC POP, producing low-alcohol frozen treats in tubular-shaped packaging.

“Under draconian NSW liquor legislation our IYC POPs can be classified as undesirable products, if they contain more than the 1.15% of the ABV (alcohol by volume) limit,” said Kim.

The company has avoided problems in the past by keeping their product, made with fresh Australian fruit, under the 1.15% ABV limit.

But last week Kim and her partner won a lucrative contract to export their upmarket popsicles to several South East Asian countries.

If the founders can produce the IYC POPs in volume, Asian consumers will be able to enjoy the alcoholic treats, at more than four times the alcohol strength as consumers in Australia.

“Our agreement in Asia requires the alcohol content to be at 4.5%,” she said.

“Similar product exists all over the world at 4% to 5%, and sometimes 6% ABV, but in Australia, and in NSW in particular, there’s a blanket ban on the entire category of frozen alcohol,” she said.

*Alcohol by volume (abbreviated as ABV, abv, or alc/vol) is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage (expressed as a volume percent). 

The NSW Government has previously committed to supporting start-up businesses.  

Battling perceptions  

Kim and her partner have had to battle to change consumer perceptions in Australia, where most kids grow up snacking on frozen treats.  

“We always saw Australia as a terrific adult market for alcohol-infused popsicles, with our long, hot summers and our love of the outdoors,” she said.  

“But when we started out, we found many other companies were reluctant to work with us because of the fear that they might be perceived to be glamorising alcohol.” 

However, a marketing campaign to change perceptions and innovate around the way alcohol is consumed, has been successful. 

The company has since collaborated with more than 40 national and global brands and provided IYC POPs’ to private corporate events, outdoor music festivals and weddings.   

The frozen treats have even proved popular at some of Sydney’s ritzy establishments, where bar staff include them as a final flourish to cocktails.  

Upbeat future  

The founders are hoping to expand into direct-to-consumers and multipack markets by capitalising on the demand for healthy low-sugar drinks in Australia.  

“I’d also like to collaborate with liquor companies, like Baileys for example, to produce a Bailey’s range of IYC POPs.” Kim said.  

Despite the lack of regulatory support in NSW Kim is upbeat about their future and is looking for an investor to help them build a larger manufacturing operation in NSW.  

“We are pioneering the ‘premium popsicle’ market, creating flavours that are produced only using natural ingredients, with real fresh fruits and no preservatives and no artificial colours,” said Kim.   “I believe we need more companies like ours to introduce smarter, healthier ways of consuming alcohol in a country that will always enjoy an alcoholic beverage.”