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EU spirits producers commit to providing energy information

Trade body Spirits Europe has signed a memorandum of understanding, committing the European spirits sector to provide energy information on labels and full ingredient listings online.

One in four bottles available in the EU is predicted to include energy information on label by the end of 2020
One in four bottles available in the EU is predicted to include energy information on label by the end of 2020

The voluntary agreement was signed by Spirits Europe today (4 June) in the presence of EU commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis during the association’s general assembly meeting in Paris.

Spirits Europe said the new agreement “goes well beyond the initial commitments” made by the sector in March 2018, when spirits producers in the European Union (EU) voluntarily pledged to implement measures that will provide consumers with ingredient and nutrition information by 2022.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) foresees a “highly dynamic and ambitious roll-out plan” to provide energy values on labels for the first time.

One in four bottles available in the EU market is predicted to include energy information on label by the end of 2020 – a share that is set to rise to 50% and 66% by the end of 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Labels will provide energy information per serving size and per 100ml. Some producers – particularly small and medium-sized producers – may need more time to implement these commitments due to “financial and logistical challenges”, the trade body said.

Spirits Europe said the sector “will go above and beyond existing legislative obligations” to provide online ingredient listings, including raw materials for all spirits categories.

The MoU also sets out a number of specific principles and rules with regards to the questions of how energy information should be provided on the label and in which manner ingredients should be listed online.

‘Necessary clarity’ 

The agreement follows a “long and intense” negotiation period over the last 14 months under the direction of Andriukaitis.

The aim of the MoU is to “put forward a common understanding” and communicate a “transparent and an ambitious self-regulatory approach that takes into account consumer information needs as well as sector-specific aspects and the existing legal framework”.

Spirits Europe, along with several company members and trade association members who signed the agreement, will work with the European Commission to monitor the impact and success of the MoU. Two meetings a year will be held to review its progress.

“We are proud about the unique and pioneering commitment signed today by the European spirit producers which will provide consumers with the information they are looking for”, said Christian Porta, president of Spirits Europe.

“Calorie information will appear on the bottles and we’ll keep developing comprehensive ingredients and nutritional information through easy-to-use online tools for our customers so they are further empowered to make informed and responsible choice.

“The text agreed today provides European distillers with the necessary clarity and guidance to implement the agreed rules within a highly ambitious timeline.”

Andriukaitis added: “We live in a time where consumers increasingly want to be better informed about what they eat and drink so they can make healthier choices.

“I am therefore pleased that today the spirits sector makes a leap forward providing Europeans with that very possibility.

“I understand that many companies and associations had to get around the table to come up with the plan that I am being presented today. I congratulate the sector for these efforts and call on all producers to implement the MoU’s provisions along the agreed parameters and timeline.”

The MoU was also signed by trade body the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).

ABFI director Patricia Callan said: “Today’s development is hugely positive. The text of the MoU is clear and concise, giving spirits companies the clarity they need to implement the measures within an ambitious timeline.

“This collaborative approach at EU level is the best way to ensure consumers get the information they need in the most effective and efficient way.

“Our industry is proud of the products it makes and this ground-breaking commitment highlights the role we can play in informing consumers and helping governments and regulators meet their policy goals”.

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