Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm 2015 is taking place this week and it’s a good time to share our progress on implementing our commitment on consumer information. Under this commitment, we will provide consumers in Europe with full ingredient and nutritional values (the ‘Big 7’: energy values, fat, saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt) on our beers; on label and online.
Even though the EU has been unable to agree rules on consumer information for alcohol beverages, we believe we have a responsibility to our consumers to clearly provide the information they need to make smarter choices that are right for them.
Why Here, Why Now?
This week sees the third annual week dedicated to raising awareness on – and help reduce – alcohol related harm. For AB InBev, full information about our beers is part of our broader ambition to help address excessive and harmful drinking. This starts with providing choice to our consumers – including great tasting low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers. And, 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.
Concretely, we are aligning our labeling with the ingredient and nutritional information requirements set out in the European Regulation on Food Information to Consumers. AB InBev will put ingredient and energy information on our primary consumer facing packaging (e.g. bottles and cans) with a link to the full ‘Big 7’ online. We will provide this information for both portions of 100ml, as is the norm for all other beverages under the EU Regulation, as well as the typical serving size – which in most cases is the content of a single serve can or bottle.
Here’s an example of our most recent label-change, for the Dutch beer Hertog Jan, which will be in stores in early 2016.
When a product is surrounded by non-returnable secondary packaging (like cardboard boxes or shrink wraps) we will add the full ‘Big 7’ nutrition information on this as well.
New labels, cans and packaging have to be created and produced as part of an on-going cycle of updating our packaging. Given the nature of this process, we have set as a target to reach 80% of our European volume by the end of 2017. In the meantime, we are implementing full ingredient and nutrition information for our beers on our dedicated online platform www.tapintoyourbeer.com, and we will complete this process very soon.
Partnering for the Benefit of Consumers of Europe
Effectively helping consumers make smarter choices about the beers they consume would not be possible if AB InBev were acting alone. That’s why, together with other major leading brewers, we have partnered with the Brewers of Europe to adopt an umbrella commitment that brings together the entire European brewing sector. We have been a driving force of this initiative. By going beyond the common baseline, we also hope to provide an example that others can follow.
Without the European Alcohol and Health Forum, and in particular the open dialogue with multiple actors and the focus on concrete action which the EAHF champions, this sector-wide initiative would likely not have come to fruition. The commitment is a testament to the benefits of a multi-stakeholder approach, which can drive change faster than regulation alone.
From Going Beyond to the New Normal
We have much work ahead of us. But the wheels are now properly in motion, and European consumers will begin seeing the concrete change resulting from our initiative as of next year.
We welcome all feedback and support on our journey to make full consumer information on beer the new normal.