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Diageo to help drinkers make informed choices

Diageo has made a global labelling commitment to provide nutrition and alcohol content information per serve to help consumers make informed choices – a first for any alcohol company. The intention is to provide this information through Diageo’s responsible drinking website and/or on-pack in a majority of Diageo’s markets, subject to local regulatory approval, as soon as practicable.

Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive, Diageo says: “Diageo puts the consumer at the heart of everything we do. We are committed to ensuring our consumers have the best possible information from which to make informed choices about our products: this includes alcohol content and nutrition information per typical serve. Currently, there is no obligation to provide such information in markets worldwide, but we know that consumers are increasingly discerning about what’s in their glass. We want to provide alcohol and nutrition information that consumers can quickly understand, instead of expecting them to do the maths.”

Providing information on the amount of alcohol per serve helps consumers understand how much they are drinking. This could help reduce the misuse of alcohol – a goal shared by regulators, consumer organisations, health professionals and alcohol companies alike.

Diageo will work with regulators around the world to agree the format of voluntary labels that provide information on alcohol content and nutrition per typical serve. In the US, Diageo has gained regulatory approval for a voluntary ‘serving facts’ panel for alcohol drinks, which includes this nutrition and alcohol per serve information (see illustrations above). 

In the EU, alcohol drinks are exempt from providing nutrition information on labels, but other foodstuffs are required to do so per 100ml. The 100ml basis on its own does not reflect the reality of the way drinkers consume alcohol, and is therefore misleading. Diageo believes that consumer information for alcohol is best provided per typical serve, so that consumers can understand the alcohol and nutrition content of serves of different drinks, which vary in size across beer, wine and spirits. To this end, Diageo will work with the EU to establish a standard alcohol unit across the 28 Member States to provide an effective way of communicating alcohol content to consumers.

Ian Duncan, MEP for Scotland and Member of the European Parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, commented: “Today's announcement from Diageo is a fine example of their commitment to giving consumers the information that they need to make sensible decisions about alcohol. Providing both the nutrition and alcohol content of alcohol drinks, in an easy to understand 'per serving' format, is a major improvement on the confusing current system, where there are different measurements of alcohol units across the EU.

“This is a hugely positive step and one that the European Commission should reflect on, as it considers how to tackle harmful drinking”

Pictured above are examples of US ‘per serving’ fact labels for 750ml Smirnoff Red; 12fl.oz (355ml) Harp Lager; and 750ml Blossom Hill Wine

23 March 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor