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Half of all alcoholic drinks now feature calorie information on labels

  • New research finds that almost half (47%) of alcoholic drinks in the UK feature calorie information on labels, despite no legal requirement to do so
  • The Portman Group is calling for mandatory labelling to be removed from the upcoming Government consultation addressing alcohol labelling within the overall obesity strategy

A new study of alcoholic drinks from leading UK brands reveals that almost half (47%) now carry calorie information on labels.

In a new market review, Informing Alcohol Consumers: 2021 UK Market Review, released by the Portman Group today, a sample of over 400 of the most widely consumed alcoholic drinks reveals the results of an industry-wide commitment to provide consumers with public health information on labels, despite no legal requirement to do so.

The Portman Group, which is the self regulator and social responsibility body for alcohol marketing in the UK, is calling for labelling to remain voluntary ahead of an impending consultation from the Department of Health and Social Care, which may see such information become mandatory. The consultation, anticipated by the end of 2021, may see the Government enforce new requirements on alcohol labels including pregnancy warning logos, unit content information and the latest Chief Medical Officer drinking guidance amongst others.

This comes as many in the alcohol industry works towards self-implemented measures to provide calorie information for alcoholic drinks by the end of 2022.

The Portman Group report shows that of over 400 alcoholic drinks studied, the vast majority of drinks already contain: pregnancy warnings (99%), alcoholic unit information (94%) and a reference to a responsibility message, or to Drinkaware (93%). In addition, almost four in five (79%) carry the latest UK Chief Medical Officer low risk drinking guidelines – a far larger footprint on labels since the previous evaluation – see notes to editors for more.

Portman Group CEO, Matt Lambert, said: “Responsible alcohol marketing needs to be clear, and have information that consumers can easily understand to make informed choices. It is a significant achievement that the industry is delivering on its commitments to ensuring high standards of voluntary best practice. As our report shows, calorie information on alcohol labelling is firmly on track to become a majority wide industry practise as we have already seen with unit labelling, pregnancy, Drinkaware and responsibility messages.

“It also shows a significant considerable/ (or) an important acceleration in progress has been made in updating labelling to include the latest UK Chief Medical Officer guidance on low-risk drinking meaning that the industry is voluntarily delivering clear information and on track to near universal adherence without recourse to valuable Parliamentary time.”

Since 2017 the Portman Group has been advising the industry on adhering to the most recent industry Best Practice Guidance. This was the result of industry and government partnership working subsequent to the Public Health Responsibility Deal. The Guidance recommends how to show information including: units; the Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines; advice on drinking during pregnancy; a responsibility statement; the promotion of Drinkaware advice; calorie content; nutritional information; drink-driving messages; and the communication that alcohol is an age-restricted product.

The Portman Group will now seek to engage with the small minority of producers who aren’t demonstrating the minimum requirements of the Guidance.

ENDS

Download the full report here.

Notes to editors

The report contains the following comparison to figures identified between the Portman Group’s 2021 review and the UK Alcohol Health Alliance 2019 review of a similar number of products. The comparison is as follows:

Labelling reviewed 2019
Alcohol Health Alliance
study of 424 products
2021
Portman Group Review
of 400 products
CMO low risk guidance 29% 79%
Pregnancy warning 97% 99%
Unit information 95% 94%
Drinkaware or responsibility message N/A 93%
Calorie information 44% 47%

Link to Government’s proposed review on alcohol labelling: House of Commons, 28 October 2021

About the Portman Group

The Portman Group is the social responsibility body and regulator for alcohol labelling, packaging and promotion in the UK. This year we are celebrating 25 years of our Code of practice that holds the industry the highest ethical standards. It ensures that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable. The Code has helped create an industry that works effectively within the context of a self-regulatory model, while encouraging design, innovation, and creativity. This has been done in an effective, responsive and inexpensive way.

The Portman Group has over 130 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies. It is funded by 14 member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; C&C Group; Campari; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mark Anthony Brands International; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Pernod Ricard UK, SHS Drinks and Thatchers’.


Press release from the Portman Group

For more information contact:

Nicola Bates, Director of External Affairs

Mobile: 07730 525 701

NBates@portmangroup.org.uk

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