Ingredient info and calorie counts: How the EU alcohol industry is working to give consumers more information about their drinks

In the EU, alcohol does not legally have to provide nutrition and ingredient labeling in the same way food does. And yet the last few years have seen increased acceptance that such products really should​ provide this information in some shape or form.

But efforts to do so vary between different sectors. And this week, new regulation for the wine industry comes into effect: which will mandate that ingredients and nutritional information are included on wine labels. That’s against the backdrop of voluntary initiatives in the beer and spirits sectors.

Wine: Legislation provides clarity

In the EU, food and non-alcoholic drinks are covered by the Food Information to Consumers 1160/2011​ (FIC) Regulation: which mandates the inclusion of certain information on pack (nutritional information, allergens, origins, etc).

Alcohol above 1.2% ABV, however, is not covered by the FIC.

But consumers are demanding more and more transparency about their products. They’re also looking to moderate calorie intake and alcohol consumption – and, accordingly, are more attentive to what and how much they’re drinking. 

From its side, the alcohol industry has long realised that it is in its interest to give consumers what they want. And it actually could also help the industry communicate the nature of its products better: beer, for example, is made from four simple, natural ingredients – and brewers have decided it’s important to promote that​​ against a backdrop of sugar and additives in other drinks categories). 

Following a series of separate voluntary pledges from different sectors, a milestone came in 2018 when the alcohol industry came together to make self-regulation commitments​​ to the EU for the list of ingredients and nutritional declaration on alcohol. This resulted in Memorandums of Understanding signed between the EU and spiritsEUROPE and The Brewers of Europe in 2019.