Industry News - March 23, 2023
The European Union brought a reform, which will require that wine labels list ingredients (including oenological additives) and nutrition information. Will the US follow?
For many years, the topic of listing ingredients in wine has been up in the air, floating like a lost helium balloon. Indeed, it’s quite puzzling why food, non-alcoholic beverages and even cosmetic products have to list their ingredients, but wine, beer and distilled spirits don’t. Finally, this is changing.
On December 6, 2021, the European Union brought a reform of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which entered into force on January 1, 2023. The CAP introduces a number of new provisions to be considered by companies operating in the agricultural and wine sector. Specifically, wine labeling will have to clearly list ingredients (including oenological additives) and nutrition information.
Our team at Vintners is extremely happy about this from a moral standpoint and that consumers will finally be able to more clearly distinguish artisanal natural products from industrial ones that might contain unwanted substances. Additionally, we see that our platform will be able to help many small producers comply with the new requirements.
Although the wines produced and labeled before December 8, 2023 may continue to be placed in the EU market until stocks are exhausted, the new legislation should quickly pave the way for a fairer, greener and more performance-based CAP. It seeks to ensure a sustainable future for European farmers, provide more targeted support to smaller farms, and allow greater flexibility for EU countries to adapt measures to local conditions.
Introducing Digital Labels as an option for compliance requirements
Specifically, EU regulation 2021/2117 provides guidelines for wine labeling. Up until now, the EU wine industry, unlike food, has not been previously required to list ingredients other than allergens on wine labels. This requirement is now introduced with an interesting twist, which goes beyond the physical label, and encompasses digital labels.
Namely, the content of physical labels placed on the wine bottle can be limited to a nutrition declaration of the energy value by using the “E” symbol (roughly like a declaration of “calories” in the US). The full nutrition declaration and ingredient list, however, can be provided electronically, for example with a QR code on the label itself.
While the list of ingredients causing allergies and intolerances must be on the physical label, the electronic labels cannot contain any other information intended for sales or marketing purposes and are not allowed to collect user data in order to ensure privacy.
As European legislators have moved to require ingredient and nutritional information on wine labels US consumer groups have fought to achieve the same objective. Although nearly 20 years in the making, it looks as if this might finally happen. As a matter of fact 69 organizations and individual citizens including four deans of schools of public health, submitted a petition in 2003 that called for alcoholic beverages to be treated in the same way as other beverages and food products.
Finally, the Center for Science in the Public Interest - CSPI - reported that the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has agreed to issue proposed rules requiring standardized alcohol content, calories, and allergens labeling on wine, beer and distilled spirits.
This can change the game for all craft wine producers, as their products will finally stand out next to the industrial wines and other alcoholic beverages. Since Vintners.co is a platform that is built to support all the players of craft wine, providing a way to centralize and collaborate on all the information related to the wines, we are thrilled to be able to leverage our platform to help with the compliance of the regulations in both Europe and the US.
The heart of Vintners.co is our wine information database that allows to centralize and manage all commercial and non-commercial information on wine products, including all the information about ingredients, allergens and nutrition facts. Thanks to Vintners.co, users of the platform will be able to create, manage and host digital labels smoothly online. Our tools will help with compliance of the regulation requirements, respecting data privacy, and have simple ways to also manage and generate QR codes and printed physical stickers, as well as back labels to bridge the physical labels with their digital counterpart
Please reach out to us if interested to use Vintners.co to get ready for the December 23 milestone and manage your e-labels from our platform.
(Example of the label generated from our platform below)
"Digital Label Example"
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