The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has developed what it claims are the UK’s first no and low alcohol guides.

Three documents, compiled by the WSTA in collaboration with its producer and retailer members, aim to “clear up confusion over the marketing, labelling and production” of low and no alcohol wines and spirits.  

 The first two, published today, are WSTA Marketing Guide for Alcohol Alternatives, and WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Spirit’ Alternatives

 A third guide, WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Wine’ Alternatives, will follow.

The marketing guide focuses on beverages that contain a maximum of 0.5% abv and are marketed at adults.

The second guide on labelling low and no spirit alternatives is the second edition of WSTA guidance originally published in 2021. It builds on the previous advice and sets out “pragmatic solutions to conflicting legislative requirements”. The document also contains best practice pointers, as well as suggested legal descriptors to aid in the naming of products.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA said:  “As the low and no sector continues to innovate and grow the WSTA is pleased to offer – for the first time in the UK – a comprehensive set of guides to help members navigate the often-confusing world of describing, labelling and marketing no and low alcohol drinks.

“These detailed documents offer clarity and comprehensive guidance to help producers avoid pitfalls. If you are making low and no wines and spirits these guides are a must read.”

The WSTA said that it expects the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to carry out a further consultation, over summer, to seek views on changing the low alcohol descriptor guidance that was published in 2018.

 “This will be their second attempt at consulting on the descriptors, after their 2018 effort failed to result in updated descriptors – despite a clear and unified ask from industry,” the WSTA said.

The consultation has two objectives: to increase substitution of standard-strength alcohol products with low/no products by those drinking above low-risk levels; and to facilitate a shift in the market from sales and promotion of alcoholic products towards low/no alternatives.

 “The WSTA and its members believe strongly that these aims cannot be achieved without amendments to the current descriptors, particularly the need to increase alcohol free from 0.05% to 0.5%,” the trade group said. “This would provide consistency between the UK and European markets in these products, as well as providing clarity to today’s confused consumers.” 

The new guides are available to WSTA members here.