Alcohol calories ‘unimportant’

18 May, 2010

Two-thirds of consumers have no interest in knowing the calorie content of alcoholic drinks, according to a report from market research firm Mintel.

This appears to contradict mounting support in the drinks industry for the use of calorie-content labelling ahead of, or in addition to, units as a way of persuading consumers to drink more sensibly.

Mintel found 35% of consumers have no interest in alcohol calorie content and a further 31% would rather not know because they think it will impact on their enjoyment of drinking. Only one in five admit it could influence their choice.

The study calls into question the wisdom of marketing and packaging which has focused on calories.

Paul Hegarty, Drinkaware’s industry relationship manager, said recently that calorie content was “far more compelling” than units in helping consumers understand alcoholic content, although he felt units still had a major part to play.

Ben Perkins, Mintel’s head of food and drink research and author of its new report on alcoholic drinks labelling, said: “Calorie labelling is supposed to be the next big thing. We spoke to a lot of people in the industry and although some seem to think it will be really important, it isn’t at the moment.

“But it might be that as soon as companies start putting it on labels it starts to change attitudes.”

Perkins said there was generally a contradiction between consumers feeling there was too much “clutter” on labels and not enough for them to clearly understand the alcoholic content and its possible impacts.

He said: “Given a visual prompt, people often say they’ve seen sensible drinking information but that doesn’t always mean they understand it. The challenge for producers is to make as much information available as simply as possible, but that’s difficult when one in five people say they don’t even look at the labelling.”

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