spiritsNEWS May 2021

Promise – Delivered: European Producers Successfully reach Energy On-Pack Target as Part of Multiannual Labelling Commitment

Europe’s producers of spirit drinks have successfully delivered on a 1st milestone commitment to provide a growing share of spirits sold in the EU with energy information on the label. Our first Progress Report released on 5 May shows the sector succeeded in ensuring that, by 31 December 2020, around 1 in 4 bottles already featured such information, a share that is set to rise to 50% and 66% by the end of 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Our targets are part of a multiannual voluntary agreement – the so-called Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Consumer Information – that was facilitated by the European Commission in 2019. The MoU provides us with clear guidance on how nutrition information and ingredient listings should be made available to consumers on spirit drinks, given that they are not mandatory under current EU rules.

While a good deal of the progress in the rollout of energy on-pack labels has been driven by larger brands sold in high volumes, a growing number of smaller producers have also enacted label changes in line with the MoU. Roll-out speed and progress varied between countries. While a number of countries significantly over-achieved on the committed threshold, more progress will need to be made in Phase II in those countries in which progress has been slower and the threshold could not yet be reached.

Further significant progress can also be observed by looking at other key parameters of the MoU: more and more producers have started to report on compliance intent and roll-out and more and more trade associations have signed up to the MoU since 2019, thus widening the geographical reach and impact of this landmark co-regulatory initiative in the EU.

Rapid progress has also been achieved in key initiatives to provide digital consumer information. The spirits sector has teamed up with the wine sector to build a bespoke E-label Platform to allow the development of tailored e-labels in an easy, reliable and cost-efficient way. The moderate cost structure will enable producers of all sizes, and SMEs in particular, to participate to create e-labels. The beta-version of the Platform, which is entirely financed by private means from the sectors, will be piloted in Q2/2021 for full operational deployment shortly thereafter.

In Spain, the national trade association has teamed up with GS1 Spain to develop a dedicated national digital labelling solution in line with the MoU’s commitments. Thanks to the project, consumers can access product-specific information from their mobile phone by scanning the barcode already today. The project’s rollout has been a great success, with 41% of spirits SKUs on the Spanish market already providing on-line consumer information directly through this system.

The MoU has proven its value by providing the sector with an appropriate, harmonised long-term framework governing the provision of nutrition information & ingredient listing for spirits drinks sold in the EU. This, in turn, has enabled the sector to make rapid progress in the roll-out, bringing more and more labelled products to European consumers with SKU-specific information included which goes well beyond what is currently mandated by EU rules. 

In terms of conception and implementation, the MoU can thus be considered a best practice example inspired by, and modelled along, the European Commission’s Principles for Better Self- and Co-regulation.

As a sector, we remain fully committed to delivering on the commitments of the MoU this year and in 2022!

Ulrich Adam

Director General*


*In his capacity as permanent representative of SPRL ADLOR Consulting

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