In its response to the Department of Health and Social Care’s consultation on the use of no and low alcohol descriptors, the Portman Group has urged government to use the consultation as an opportunity to simplify the terms and provide clarity and consistency.
There are currently four descriptors in use to communicate products that contain low or no alcohol. With the current labelling regulations due to expire at the end of the year, the government has launched the consultation to consider if the descriptors still resonate with the public and industry.
The Portman Group’s recommendations include:
- Removing the term ‘de-alcoholised’ as consumers find this confusing.
- Introducing a minimum strength of above 0.5% ABV to the category of ‘low alcohol’ to go up to and include1.2% ABV.
- Raise the ‘alcohol free’ threshold to 0.5% ABV from where it currently sits at 0.05% ABV and bring the UK into line with other European countries.
- The term ‘non-alcoholic’ is currently permitted to describe communion or sacramental wine. Both ‘alcohol-free’ and ‘non-alcoholic’ could be used interchangeably to describe products of 0.5% ABV or less which would reflect current market-use and consumer perceptions.
John Timothy, Portman Group CEO, commented: “This consultation is really good news. The innovation in the low and no categories being led by producers and retailers is a great success story, and this is an opportunity or the industry and government to provide much-needed clarity and consistency for consumers.
“Updating the thresholds in a way that will bring UK regulations in line with existing practice in the majority of European countries will create a level playing field for drinks producers. This is especially important as the market for low and no alcohol drinks continues to grow.”