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Portman Group updates alcohol labelling guidelines

The UK alcohol industry endorses updated labelling to help consumers make informed choices

The Portman Group, the alcohol social responsibility body and alcohol marketing self-regulator, today has updated its Alcohol Labelling Guidelines providing best practice guidance to alcohol producers. Download the updated guidance here and marketing toolkit here.

The Guidance sets the minimum recommended best practice elements for product labelling, which includes the provision of unit information, a pregnancy message or symbol, and a direction to Drinkaware. This update also now includes the recommendation to include the Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines 2016. This builds on the commitment made by Portman Group members in 2019 to include the CMO guidance on their labelling.

The previous edition was published in 2017 in collaboration with the British Beer and Pub Association, National Association of Cider Makers, Scotch Whisky Association, and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The updated guidance is now also formally supported by the Society of Independent Brewers, ensuring that there is a more explicit consideration of the role of smaller producers in sharing public health information.

The Guidance builds on over a decade of success in improving access to information, resulting in more than 99% of products containing a pregnancy warning message or logo, 94% demonstrating unit content, 93% displaying a Drinkaware or responsibility message, and almost four in five (79%) carrying the latest UK Chief Medical Officer low risk drinking guidelines (Portman Group, Market Review, September 2021 – research of June/July 2021).  Producers looking to implement the guidance are encouraged to use the Portman Group’s free Advisory Service, which offers confidential support to producers in developing their marketing.

In response to the updated guidance, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group said: “The Portman Group continues to set industry standards effectively, responsively, and at no cost to the public purse. We are proud of the huge progress made by the industry which already widely commits to responsible alcohol labelling. This updated guidance will further enhance adherence, and we hope will help small producers continue to market their products responsibly.”

This comes as Drinkaware, the independent UK alcohol education charity, lowers its licensing price for smaller producers and re-sellers. Drinkaware want to reach as many people at the risk of harmful drinking through having a strong message across most producers and re-sellers of alcohol to the public.  From mid-June any organisation with an annual turnover from alcohol sales of £2.5m (inc duty, exc VAT) or less can apply to use Drinkaware’s protected IP via www.drinkaware.co.uk. The cost of the agreement will be £50 + VAT per annum, with the aim to support widespread take up across industry’s smaller producers and operators.

Adam Jones, Business Development & Partnerships Director at Drinkaware. said “We hope that by making the Drinkaware logo license fee more accessible and cost effective for smaller producers and re-sellers we can reach as many people as possible who are at risk of harmful drinking.  We also think this is an important step in recognising the change in the profile of the drinks industry which has seen a huge number of smaller producers and sellers emerge over recent years.”

We understand that producers face a range of challenges in ensuring that an increasing number of mandatory requirements are also incorporated on pack; and that there are specific demands on certain categories. We also appreciate that there is a cost to producers in ensuring that information on products adheres to voluntary and mandatory requirements. This is why the industry Alcohol Labelling Guidelines is supported by the Portman Group’s free Advisory Service which helps producers to incorporate best practice at a point when they are revising their product packaging and marketing.

Read the full guidance here.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  1. A spokesperson is available for interviews upon request.
  2. If you have any questions regarding the changes to Drinkaware’s logo licence costs please email logos@drinkaware.co.uk
  3. The Portman Group was formed in 1989. It is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body. It has over 150 Code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies.
  4. The Portman Group is funded by 15 member companies: Asahi UK Ltd; Aston Manor Cider; Bacardi; Brown-Forman; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Campari; C&C; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mark Anthony Brands International; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors; Pernod Ricard UK, SHS Drinks and Thatchers’.
  5. The Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was first published in 1996. For over 25 years the Code has sought to ensure 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.
    • Effectively – over 170 products have been amended or removed from the market. Many hundreds more have been helped to adhere to the Code before appearing on shelves through the support of the Advisory Service.
    • Responsively – there have been five updates to the Code over 25 years responding to changes in public attitudes and expanding its reach; all without recourse to Government or Parliamentary time.
    • Inexpensively – the 15 leading members of the industry are currently funding the model for all to be protected at no cost to the public purse.

Press release from the Portman Group

For more information contact: JMeaden@portmangroup.org.uk

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