In February 2017, two large drinks brands and one large pub chain announced that they would label alcoholic drinks with nutritional information, including calories.
Could this result in a big shift in drinking choices?
Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniels announced in February 2017 that it would publish a website, at nutrition.brown-forman.com, with nutritional information and alcoholic content for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Finlandia, Canadian Mist, Jimador, Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, and Woodford Reserve.
JD Wetherspoon said it will start adding the nutritional information of its drinks to its website and menus at 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland from this month.
Wetherspoon was the first pub company to highlight the number of calories on all of its meals and announced that it was the next logical step to extend this practice to the drinks menu.
Diageo Group has added on-pack nutritional information and alcohol content to its “W Signature by Windsor” whisky-based spirit drink, and revamped its drinkIQ website.
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This follows on from the company’s announcement in 2016 that it would put nutritional information and alcohol content onto Johnnie Walker Red Label bottles.
Updates to Johnnie Walker Black Label, Double Black, Gold Label Reserve, Platinum and Green Label are also planned for the first half of 2017.
Johnnie Walker Red Label is the best-selling global Scotch Whisky and the new be shipped to dozens of markets globally, and the company expects the first 30m labelled bottles to be distributed globally by the end of the year.
All of the companies involved have stated that they want their customers to have as much information as possible so that they can make informed decisions about the drinks they choose to enjoy.
This could mean consumer preferences shift
The expansion of nutritional information from typical foods to alcohol has the potential to change how consumers perceive what they drink.
Consumers are concerned with health; according to GlobalData’s 2016 Q3 consumer survey, 90 percent of consumers globally considered “eating healthily” to be important or very important to create a feeling of wellbeing or wellness.
In the same survey, 41 percent said they were trying to lose weight and 63 percent said they wanted to limit their sugar intake or avoid it entirely.
With greater consumer access to the nutritional information of alcoholic drinks, it is plausible that the sales of sugary or carbohydrate-rich alcoholic drinks could be negatively impacted.
Those consumers wanting to enjoy a drink and moderate their intake of sugar, carbs or alcohol, will now have an extra opportunity to do it.
With rising concerns over obesity and diabetes, governments may emulate the example of the US; in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that chain restaurants with 20 or more venues must state the number of calories in alcoholic drinks.
Over the longer term, such a labelling trend could result in an increase in lower-calorie alcoholic options for beers, ciders and spirits and mixers with reduced focus on sweetness.
Spirits, for example, could move towards lines that use unsweetened botanicals and infusions as a result.