Simon Spillane / Director Communications and Public Affairs.
Brewers’ commitment to better inform consumers welcomed by most, but not all
The Brewers of Europe very much appreciates the support it has received from BEUC (the European consumer organisation) and Eurocare (the European alcohol policy alliance), as well as the European Commission, after announcing in the last week a major commitment to list ingredients and nutrition information for beer. Making this announcement we also encouraged other alcoholic drinks sectors to follow our lead and commitment to transparency in this endeavour.
Unfortunately however, alongside the positive reactions from policymakers, consumers and NGOs, there have also been some negative reactions, going so far as to say that The Brewers of Europe is misleading consumers and undermining responsible drinking messages. We therefore felt it useful to clarify the situation.
Whilst there is currently an exemption for alcoholic beverages over 1.2% ABV with regard to the provision of nutrition and ingredients information, it is mandatory for any producer voluntarily providing this information to follow the rules of the EU Regulation on Food Information to Consumers with regard to its display.
This means that companies voluntarily committing to provide the nutritional values (e.g. calorie content) for beers are legally obliged to provide the information per 100ml. This is not just the legal point of reference for all beverages (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), it is also logical and has been understood by consumers for years, allowing them to easily compare information across all beverages on a level playing field. Furthermore, the EU Regulation makes it clear that absolutely nothing prevents economic operators today also additionally using other points of reference, such as portion sizes, alongside the well-known 100ml reference.
“It’s a storm in a teacup, or should I say a shot glass”, said Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe. “How can brewers be labelled as misleading consumers when, in spite of the exemptions, we decide to proactively, objectively and legally inform them about what they drink, voluntarily applying the law that applies to all other food and drink products? It is true that 100ml is hardly the usual serving size for any drinks, be they alcoholic or non-alcoholic. The EU recognises this when it gives the option of additionally using portion sizes. Indeed, beer cultures vary in Europe such that there are a whole range of servings and container sizes. However, the 100ml point of reference is simply the base measure chosen by the EU regulator so consumers can easily compare values across all the beverages available to them, when the nutrition information is provided.”
“In addition to beer also being the first alcoholic drinks sector to commit to listing ingredients across Europe, when I see consumer research that shows consumers wish to receive the nutritional information too and NGOs, public health advocates and policymakers are lining up to welcome our voluntary initiative, it reinforces The Brewers of Europe’s conviction that what brewers have committed to doing is the right thing to do, in the interests of Europe’s consumers”, added Pierre-Olivier Bergeron.
See the original announcement here:
Simon Spillane, Communications Senior Advisor, The Brewers of Europe
+32 (0)2 551 1810; firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Brewers of Europe
Founded in 1958, The Brewers of Europe unites the national brewers’ associations from 29 European countries to promote the unique contribution made by beer and brewers to Europe’s culture, economy and society.