ABFI Welcomes Commitment To Provide More Nutritional Information For Drinks
A new EU wide commitment by drinks producers to provide more nutritional information and listing of ingredients has been welcomed by the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), the representative body for drinks manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland. ABFI is a member of both spiritsEUROPE and Brewers of Europe, who are among the seven drinks trade associations in the EU leading this new initiative. The commitment was presented to Health Commissioner Vytenis Andruikaitis on Monday March 12 and ABFI will support spiritsEUROPE and the Brewers of Europe in rolling the programme out in Ireland over the next four years.
The aim of the drink industry’s commitment is 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 our EU counterparts, according to the ABFI, with many already providing extensive nutritional and ingredient information.
In light of this new EU-wide commitment, the ABFI warned that the labelling provisions in Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will impose a disproportionate burden on Irish producers compared to those elsewhere in the EU.
ABFI Director Patricia Callan said, "[Monday's] announcement highlights the commitment by the drinks industry to provide consumers with extensive product information, to support informed choices. What makes this initiative even stronger is the fact that it is being taken on a pan-EU basis across 28 member states. The European drinks industry looks forward to continuing to work with the EU Commission with a view to having the commitments which were presented today 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.
“In particular, we are 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, we believe 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.
“The requirement for a specific Irish-only label would result in significant additional costs and logistical difficulties for businesses operating here, particularly smaller craft brewers and whiskey distillers. 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.
“DKM also suggests that these labelling requirements could represent a barrier to entry to the Irish market. As a result of the additional costs that would be imposed, products might be withdrawn from the Irish market or new products might not be introduced.”