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28th July 2020

Mandatory calorie labelling would harm pubs and brewers as they begin to recover from COVID-19

BBPA responds to Government’s new obesity strategy    

The British Beer & Pub Association, the leading trade association representing brewers and pubs, has today responded to the launch of the Government’s new obesity strategy. 

As part of the new strategy, the Government has said it will require large restaurants, which would include managed pubs operated by companies with more than 250 employees, to include calorie information on their food menus. It will also encourage smaller businesses to voluntarily provide calorie information and will consider making them display calories in the future.  

The BBPA, whilst welcoming the initial exemption for very small pub businesses, says such measures would be extremely costly for those pub businesses employing more than 250 employees at a time when they are recovering from COVID-19 and could also lead to restricted choice for consumers. Extending mandatory calorie labelling to smaller pubs would disproportionately affect them and their suppliers, and many local, community pubs could struggle to implement changes, it says.  

The Government has also announced it will launch a new consultation on alcohol calorie labelling as part of the new strategy. The consultation is to take place before the end of the year and will cover calorie labelling on drinks sold in pubs, including draught beer. The BBPA says such burdensome red tape would further hinder brewers and pubs when they are trying to get back on their feet post COVID-19 lockdown and already operating under unusual circumstances with social distancing in place. It says that many UK brewers have already committed to voluntarily providing calorie information on their labels.  

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: 

“Forcing pubs to display calorie content will likely reduce the food offer available to customers. It will be prohibitively expensive for pubs to implement, especially when they have had nearly four months without trade due to the lockdown.  

“In many cases UK brewers are already responding to consumer demand for calorie information and across the EU have voluntarily committed to providing the information on labels. There are also a variety of online resources available to help consumers understand calorie information for beer. Making calorie labelling mandatory for all beer, including draught beer, is unnecessary and burdensome at a time where many smaller brewers are struggling to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. 

“As our sector recovers now is not the time for burdensome red tape and we would urge the Government to look at more collaborative ways to work with our sector instead, including promoting the growing range of low and no alcohol beers. We are keen to support the Government on tackling obesity and want to work with them to help them achieve the strategy’s aims in a practical manner.”

For more information, contact Nick Lawrie []