WSTA Launches Low and No Alcohol Labelling Guidance

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has produced new guidance around the labelling of low and no alcohol drinks, as a record number of Brits explore low and no products. 

This guidance has been produced in partnership with the WTSA’s Primary Authority Trading Standards Partners, and at the behest of both retailers and producers. 

The popularity of the low and no alcohol category is at an all-time high, and January traditionally sees efforts by consumers to cut out or cut down on booze to start the year. As a result of this, drinks producers are developing new and innovative techniques to provide consumers with more choice and greater quality. 

The latest data from the WSTA Market Report shows that overall alcohol sales are down compared to the same 12-month period last year. Wine and beer sales have dipped and overall, spirit sales are flat. Wine, the nation’s most popular drink, has seen a 5% decline in sales despite the boost in online deliveries. 

Many new products on the market are produced to closely resemble their alcoholic counterparts - they are closer than ever before - in taste, aroma and appearance - to the spirits and spirit drinks they are providing an alternative to.  

The WSTA’s new guidance aims to establish acceptable legal names, marketing text and general labelling requirements for low and no alcohol drinks. 

This will help ensure clarity and certainty for producers that they are labelling and marketing their products in the correct way.

It also looks to boost confidence for consumers in the category, helping them make informed purchasing decisions through clear, accurate, and consistent labelling – which had been retailers’ over-riding concern and motivation for asking the WSTA to offer advice that can be applicable UK market-wide.

The new guidance applies to low and no alcohol drinks that are packaged and marketed as a substitute or alternative to spirit drinks and is designed to complement existing – and any future - Low Alcohol Descriptors Guidance produced by the Department of Health and Social Care. 

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: “There has been a huge amount of innovation and product development across the low and no alcohol category in recent years. Confusion – for producers and for consumers – led to a request of the WSTA to pull together comprehensive advice. Along with our Primary Authority partners, we have produced this new guide to help both producers and consumers. 

"We know that overall alcohol sales fell during 2020. Many Brits want to start 2021 by reducing the amount of alcohol they drink, or cutting it out completely, which is why I am delighted to have been able to publish this guidance so early in the year.

"Many of our members are making it easier than ever for us to choose a lower-alcohol, or no alcohol alternative, without compromising on taste or quality. Our new guidance will help producers label and market their products with greater confidence, and will help promote clear, accurate and consistent labelling across the category, boosting consumer confidence.”  

Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, at Salford City Council said supporting businesses to comply with the law and promoting best practice is central to the council’s primary authority advisory work with the WSTA.

“Low and no alcohol drinks are a fast growing market.  It is important that products are legally compliant and that they have clear and understandable labelling so that customers can make the right choices. Our staff were delighted to work with their colleagues in Wales to help the WSTA publish this pioneering guide,” he said.

Rob Curteis, Group Marketing Director at Quintessential Brands said: “With many consumers today looking to create a better balance in their lives and their diets, there’s more interest in products that help them to moderate – be it low & no alcohol, or low & no sugar. They’re also wanting to enjoy good quality when they do indulge in a bit of what they fancy though – it’s not enough to simply remove the alcohol and not consider the impact on the taste, shoppers today are more discerning and expect more from these ‘alternatives’.

With this being new territory for many producers, retailers and consumers, we welcome the WSTA’s proactive approach in giving guidance to the industry on this burgeoning category to help the consumer understand and navigate it, and also to protect the integrity of the spirits category.”

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