Drinks companies achieve voluntary alcohol labelling target

A new report has confirmed that UK drinks producers have delivered on a voluntary pledge to improve health labelling of alcohol products on shelf.

The pledge was made by industry in March 2011 under the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal. Drinks companies agreed a voluntary target for 80% of products on shelf to carry three core information elements: clear unit content, the Chief Medical Officers’ lower risk drinking guidelines and a warning about drinking when pregnant by December 2013.

The final evaluation report was carried out by Campden BRI and examined a sample of over 500 products on sale in the UK from a range of national, regional and independent supermarkets and off-licences.

Key findings

The report concluded:

  • industry has achieved 79.3% compliance with the pledge elements as measured by products on shelf (Stock Keeping Units SKUs).

  • comparing labels from 2008 on a like-for-like basis unit information has increased by 46% since the Responsibility Deal pledge; and

  • on a like for like basis 91% of products on shelf now carry warnings about drinking when pregnant  (18% in 2008) and 75% show the Chief Medical Officers' lower risk daily guidelines (6% in 2008).

Welcoming the efforts made by drinks’ producers Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said:

“It is fantastic to see the surge of companies proactively placing these labels on their products and highlighting important health messages in pregnancy. I congratulate industry partners who have taken part, and urge others to follow suit.”

 Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

 “The industry set itself an ambitious target, which is the first of its kind in Europe, and it is pleasing to see that producers and retailers have delivered on this pledge.

 The labelling pledge is a good example of the industry’s commitment to delivering meaningful change and promoting a culture of responsible drinking in the UK via voluntary action.”

Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group and Chair of the Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network said:

“This has been a phenomenal achievement by drinks producers working in partnership with the Department of Health and shows how much we can achieve through innovative voluntary agreements. People now have important health information right at their fingertips on the vast majority of products on shelf. We are pleased to see awareness of both alcohol units and daily guidelines is increasing, and through voluntary action drinks producers can continue to deliver information to consumers quickly and at no cost to the taxpayer.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive, British Beer & Pub Association said:

“I am very pleased with the report – it shows the huge amount of work and progress that the industry has achieved when it comes to giving consumers a very wide range of information on bottles and cans, not just on alcohol unit labelling, but also Government lower-risk drinking guidelines and a pregnancy warning. The work continues, on this and a wide range of other initiatives that demonstrate our commitment to the responsible retailing of alcohol.”

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, said:

“The Scotch Whisky industry is committed to delivering on its Responsibility Deal pledges and we are therefore pleased that drinks companies, including our members, have achieved their voluntary alcohol labelling target. This shows what can be achieved from the industry and government working in partnership to tackle alcohol misuse and is one of many measures successfully addressing the problem.”

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