In the interests of consumer transparency, all associations have signed up to the commitment which was presented in Brussels to Health Commissioner Vytenis Andruikaitis recently.
ABFI, a member of both spiritsEurope and Brewers of Europe (who’re among the seven drinks trade associations in the EU leading this new initiative), will roll the programme out in Ireland over the next four years.
This EU initiative gained impetus when members of the European Parliament called for compulsory calorie-labelling on alcoholic drinks three years ago.
The drink industry’s commitment aims to provide harmonised and consistent information to consumers on an EU-wide basis, either on- or off-label. Some companies, particularly small producers, may opt for online solutions, while others will choose to provide information both on labels and online. Drinks producers in Ireland already go ‘above and beyond’ some of their EU counterparts, according to ABFI, with many already providing extensive nutritional and ingredient information.
But ABFI has warned that the draconian labelling provisions in Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will impose a disproportionate burden on Irish producers compared to those elsewhere in the EU.
The announcement highlights the drinks industry’s commitment to provide consumers with extensive product information to support informed choices.
“What makes this initiative even stronger is the fact that it’s being taken on a pan-EU basis across 28 member states,” said ABFI Director Patricia Callan, adding that the European drinks industry looks forward to continuing to work with the EU Commission with a view to having the commitments which were presented here by industry accepted and implemented across the EU.
“In light of this harmonised EU-wide approach that can be rolled out in a speedy and workable fashion, we believe the Government must consider reasonable amendments on the labelling proposals in the Alcohol Bill,” she stated.
“In particular, we’re calling on the Government to remove the requirement for country-only labels, including a cancer warning label from the Bill.”
While it’s clear that the industry is committed to supporting moderate drinking and encouraging responsible choices about alcohol, ABFI believes that a focus on one health issue alone does not give a full or accurate picture to help consumers make an informed choice about their drinking.
Furthermore, no other country in the EU, or indeed the world, has introduced mandatory cancer warnings on alcohol products, making Ireland completely out of step with the rest of the EU., she believes.
According to DKM economic consultants, it’s anticipated that it will cost approximately €50,000 to redesign an entire suite of labelling for a single product line, she added.
By-and-large, the industry believes that it’s perhaps best to see how this initiative pans out before going down the compulsory Irish labelling route suggested by the Bill.
Other major producers such as Diageo and ABInBev have already promised to provide ingredient and nutritional information.