On June 11th, the Brewers of Europe met with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who welcomed the progress made by brewers in voluntarily labelling the ingredients and calorie content of their beers. Commissioner Kyriakides described the meeting as a constructive exchange, saying, “Industry has a key role to play in protecting the health of our citizens and empowering them to choose healthy lifestyles.”
The Brewers of Europe explained how Europe’s beer brewers are well on their way to meeting their 2022 labelling targets aimed at providing clear ingredients and nutritional information for beers across the EU. The Brewers of Europe agreed on the ambitious target as part of its ‘Proud to be Clear’ Brewers’ Ambition to ensure all beer pre-pack containers label ingredients and energy values.
Figures from June 2021 show that despite the unprecedented crisis posed by the Covid restrictions on beer hospitality over the last 15 months, an estimated 93% of beer volumes sold in cans and bottles were now labelling ingredients and an estimated 86% were labelling energy. The Brewers of Europe President Lasse Aho said the progress showed that brewers could be judged not just on their words but also on their actions. “We are delighted to share with Commissioner Kyriakides the excellent news about labelling,” he said. “This is just one of our commitments to brew responsibly and shows how we are ensuring that our consumers are crystal clear about the ingredients that go into our fine beers. We are also extremely pleased that our ongoing collaboration with the European Commission has helped support consumer choice and empower responsible decisions.”
The delegation included Pavlos Photiades, the former President of The Brewers of Europe, who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2019 with EU’s Health Commissioner formally committing the brewers to delivering on the targets and reporting regularly on progress.
The Brewers of Europe Secretary General Pierre-Olivier Bergeron said the progress on labelling showed how beermakers were taking their public responsibilities seriously. “Brewers believe in empowering people with facts to make informed decisions. Consumers like clear, consistent, honest communication: more information gives them more choice,” he said. There currently remains an EU level exemption for alcoholic beverages above 1.2% alcohol by volume (abv) from any legal obligation to provide ingredients and nutritional information. However, brewers have been voluntarily stepping up the roll-out of ingredients listing and energy information since 2015, in conformity with the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. In July 2018, that commitment was bolstered by a specific, focused recommendation to all breweries to list ingredients and calories per 100ml on the labels of pre-packaged beer containers such as bottles and cans, just as all other non-alcoholic beverages legally have to do.
The Brewers of Europe has developed toolkits to explain the EU’s legal framework for this voluntary commitment to the more than 11,000 breweries from across the continent, helping them understand the objective and explaining how nutritional values can be calculated and presented. We continue to lead the way by providing guidance tools and using detailed monitoring to report on progress. The Brewers of Europe meeting with Commissioner Kyriakides comes just as bars, cafés and restaurants across Europe have been reopening after more than a year of forced closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic restrictions hit beer hospitality hard: bars and restaurants lost 42% of beer sales in 2020, the equivalent of over 5 billion litres, along with 800,000 beer hospitality jobs.