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AB InBev and top European brewers lead charge to redefine consumer information

, By: Malte Lohan, Head of Corporate Affairs Europe
AB InBev and top European brewers lead charge to redefine consumer information

It’s been hard work but we’re ready. Today, European Brewers are committing to providing full nutrition and ingredient information for each of our products, across Europe.

Together with the other major European brewers - Carlsberg, Heineken and SABMiller – we believe that providing beer-drinkers the information they need to make informed choices is non-negotiable for anyone who shares our passion for beer and the people we serve. We will move forward as major companies, and will also continue to work closely with national beer associations to bring the industry with us. Many other companies and national associations are helping us show the way.

Policy gap, consumer imperative.

Today, alcohol beverages over 1.2% alcohol content are exempt from EU requirements to display nutrition and ingredient information. Although the European Commission has been due to present a report on regulating consumer information for alcohol beverages since December 2014, this continues to be delayed.   

That’s why we have put our heads together and decided to move forward with this initiative voluntarily, under the auspices of the Brewers of Europe, who have brought together brewers across Europe both big and small. We believe we have a responsibility to our customers to clearly provide the information they need to make the choices that are right for them.

For AB InBev, full information about our beers is part of our broader ambition to help address excessive and harmful drinking. It starts with providing choice to our consumers – including great tasting low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers. Second, we have to ensure full information for all our beers is easily available so consumers can decide which beer is right for them on which occasion. That’s what today’s announcement is about. Finally, we have to apply strict standards for how our beers are marketed and sold.

Our ambition is clear, and so is the evidence about consumers’ needs and expectations: a pan-European study by GfK shows the misunderstandings that remain. Only 6% of European consumers know the number of calories in 100ml of beer. The study also shows consumers’ appetite for better information, including online.

This is not a “commitment to commit”. This is real.

We want to make full consumer information the new norm, for both beer and other alcohol beverages.

Our consumers are already today able to access information about their chosen beer online, including calories, fat, carbohydrates and alcohol content.

This is clearly just a starting point. We have started out online because that’s where we can make information available almost in real time. We will now be rolling out full ingredient information and the “big 7” for nutrition information for our beers across Europe. At the same time, we are beginning the process of adding that information directly on our cans and bottles. Given the nature of the process, this will take longer – after all, the new labels and cans have to be created and produced as part of an ongoing cycle of updating our packaging. Where the label is too small to include everything, we will include the calorie details and a clear link to where the full nutrition and ingredient information is available online.

As is the case for all of our commitments pledged at EU level, our results will be externally audited. We will continue to be fully transparent about the progress we are making – including the challenges we face – and look forward to sharing this with you as we move forward.

Welcome to Consumer Information 2.0.

 

Cheers!

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Malte Lohan

Malte Lohan

Head of Corporate Affairs Europe

I am convinced a genuine dialogue between policy makers, civil society and businesses leads to better policy outcomes. That dialogue is not always straightforward. My role at AB InBev is to provide a touch point to build trust and advance shared objectives: bringing the views and expertise of the world’s leading brewer to the policy table, while helping the company listen to society and stakeholders so that we can make better business decisions.