spiritsNEWS December 2021

#SpiritOfInnovation: No & low alcoholic ‘spirits’ – cheers!

After many years of internal discussions within spiritsEUROPE on how to approach the latest addition to many spirits drinks producers’ portfolios, the European spirits sector released key messages on no- and low-alcoholic ‘spirits’ in November 2021 (you can read them here).

No- and low-alcoholic ‘spirits’ are a fast-growing category. Products of this category revived discussions in the spiritsEUROPE secretariat on how to enabale and promote innivation whilst preserving existing, century-old traditions as manifested in the 44 existing spirit drinks categories under EU law.

The multiple new product launches in this category in recent years are a strong testimonial to the ability of Europe’s spirit drinks sector to innovate and respond to consumers’ demands by broadening product choice.  

Products of the new category can be produced in different ways. Most frequently, they are manufactured by diluting a category defined distillate to 1.2% ABV or less. Alternatively, the drinks are created without any alcohol. Depending on how the products are manufactured, rules on the descriptive name, the front of pack marketing or selling name as well as the labelling requirements differ.

On-label – as well as digital consumer - information must clearly inform (and prevent misleading) consumers about what the product at stake is - or is not. Consumer information must enable consumers to make conscious, well-informed purchasing decisions.

As more and more companies are starting to launch products in this new, exciting product category, it is important to provide clear guidance to producers on the correct labelling, description and marketing so that the applicable regulatory framework is future-proof, reputationally sound, competitive vis-à-vis other categories and supports product innovations and technological advancements.

The European Commission’s DG AGRI, who drafted also the Spirits Drinks Regulation 2019/787, is taking an increased interest in the new category of no- and low-alcoholic ‘spirits’, too. In 2022, a study will be conducted by a contractor hired by DG AGRI to shed light and deliver insights in the many open questions on this new, exciting product category.

The study will start in January with a kick off meeting with the Interservices Steering Group that DG AGRI will to set up to this purpose.

It is clear: The sector as well as policy makers face a unique momentum: future rules on this new, exciting, and fast-growing product category are to be defined in close relation to existing rules which must be safeguarded and promoted, especially also regarding Geographical Indications.

spiritsEUROPE looks forward to contributing to the Commission’s study in 2022 and to play a role in defining the rules for no- and low-alcoholic ‘spirits’.

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