Portman Group calls for alcohol labelling to remain voluntary, as nearly half of brands display calorie counts

woman wearing mask looking at alcohol bottle near shelf

Industry watchdog the Portman Group has said placing public health information on alcohol labels should remain a voluntary practice, after a study found that almost half of leading UK brands now carry calorie information.

The Portman Group today released a market review, which includes analysis of around 400 of the most widely consumed alcoholic drinks. The report, called Informing Alcohol Consumers: 2021 UK Market Review, found that 47% of labels now carry calorie information.

The self-regulatory and social responsibility body for alcohol marketing is calling for labelling to remain voluntary ahead of an impending consultation from the Department of Health and Social Care, which may see such information become mandatory. The consultation, anticipated by the end of 2021, may see the Government enforce new requirements on alcohol labels including pregnancy warning logos, unit content information and the latest Chief Medical Officer drinking guidance, amongst others, the Portman Group said.

The report found that of the drinks studied, the vast majority already contain: pregnancy warnings (99%), alcoholic unit information (94%) and a reference to a responsibility message, or to Drinkaware (93%). In addition, 79% carry the latest UK Chief Medical Officer low risk drinking guidelines.

Portman Group CEO, Matt Lambert, said: “Responsible alcohol marketing needs to be clear, and have information that consumers can easily understand to make informed choices. It is a significant achievement that the industry is delivering on its commitments to ensuring high standards of voluntary best practice. As our report shows, calorie information on alcohol labelling is firmly on track to become a majority wide industry practise as we have already seen with unit labelling, pregnancy, Drinkaware and responsibility messages."

He added that the industry is "voluntarily delivering clear information and on track to near universal adherence without recourse to valuable Parliamentary time”. 

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