spiritsNEWS October 2022

Editorial by Ulrich Adam, Director General of spiritsEUROPE

Digital labels: new survey shows that consumers are ready to access digital product information

Last month, we published the results of a survey demonstrating that digital labels are becoming a popular way to access product information for consumers in Europe. Eight in ten respondents are now used to scanning QR codes and over 95% of those who have used them on food and drink products find that they offer a useful way to get detailed product information.

The findings are the result of a representative consumer survey conducted by market research firm Appinio on behalf of spiritsEUROPE across five European countries (Czechia, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) and demonstrate the need for policymakers to accept that we have to modernise and re-think the way we share product information with consumers.

The numbers are encouraging as the spirits industry has already taken proactive steps to meet this shift. Last year, we launched the U-Label platform with partners from the spirits and wine industries. It is an online tool created to provide EU consumers with relevant, accurate and detailed information about their products by means of an e-label. This is exactly aligned with the majority view (87%) in favour of rules to ensure the information provided is truthful and accurate.

Physical labels can and must always include a certain, yet (physically) limited amount of ‘easy’, core product-related information. However, particularly on more complex issues such as dietary guidance or sustainability-related information, physical labels alone cannot provide European consumers with the full scope of information they want and need to make well-informed choices. So how can you cut through this dilemma and combine the ‘easy’ information on-pack with additional product-specific background information that ensures the consumer is ‘well informed’? By turning the physical label, thanks to QR code scanning technology, into a direct gateway to a detailed E-label.

By providing access to detailed product-related information and guidance, which can be easily translated, digital labels offer a valuable solution to provide accurate consumer information on broader and more complex issues across various regions and languages.

We should also note that the results of the survey underlined the need for harmonised rules on digital labels, which 80% of respondents stated they would welcome.

Digitalisation is being recognised as having the potential to provide solutions to many challenges in Europe. As such, these findings should incentivise European decision-makers to take a proactive stance on digital labels.

The European Commission should use the knowledge gained from the survey when it comes to their preparations for the revision of the Regulation on Food Information to Consumers (FIC).

At this stage, it is vital that we legislate forward rather than backwards and work together to enable digital labels.

Some weeks back, during a lively event organised by our member company Pernod Ricard, I fully endorsed the words of the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides: "The more consumers know, the better choices they can make." Europe is looking for a 21st century solution for food labels, and digital labels should be part of that.

Follow the conversation @spiritsEUROPE: #YesWeScan

Ulrich Adam, Director General*

*In his capacity as permanent representative of SPRL ADLOR Consulting

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