As previously noted, Australian Grape & Wine has been engaged in a number of key international forums related to wine over the past month.
The International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) technical meetings were held from 28 February to 10 March 2023, followed by World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) on 13-14 March. The meetings highlighted the breadth of international activity underway and the range of common issues related to wine trade and market access. Some of the key items that were discussed across both forums included:
Some of the topics that generated the most discussion and their actions from the meetings are noted below.
European Union nutrition and ingredient labelling – As noted in previous updates, the new requirements for on-label energy labelling and off-label ingredient labeling for wine, are due to come into force across the European Union (EU) on 8 December 2023. Despite this, there remains a number of uncertainties around the practical implementation of these measures and it was clear from the international meetings that everyone had questions. At the WWTG, it was highlighted that the EU is working on clarifying a number of points with the European wine industry associations. Following the meetings, the WWTG members agreed to pool all of the member questions and provide them for consideration in this process. This was completed in late March.
Australian Grape & Wine also submitted comments with the Australian Government to raise as part of the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade notification (G/TBT/N/EU/952) seeking clarity and greater certainty of the measures before they are implemented. We are also concurrently discussing with our European colleagues, opportunities to harmonize where possible, requirements for nutrition and ingredient labelling for both countries to consider their approaches.
Irish Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2022 – The current notified draft Irish Public Health Alcohol Labelling Bill also received a lot of discussion. The regulation has for some time been undergoing a domestic consultation process within the EU. Despite strong opposition from numerous EU member states, and other stakeholders voicing concern that the measure would undermine the EU’s Single Market, the European Commission did not object to the draft regulations, thus allowing the Irish Government to proceed. The measure was subsequently, notified by Ireland to the WTO TBT Committee on 6 February 2023, as the Public Health (Alcohol) (Labelling) Regulations 2022 (G/TBT/N/IRL/4). The deadline for comments under the WTO TBT mechanism is 7 May 2023. WWTG members are considering options for individual member comments to the WTO notification and Australian Grape & Wine will provide industry input into this process.
Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA) was another topic which received a lot of discussion at WWTG and OIV, as the next meeting “CCFA53” was occurring, following these meeting on 27-31 March 2023. The meeting was particularly important as it was due to resolve a long-standing issue within the General Food Standard which had prevented an agreed codex standard for wine additives for many years.
While the issue is quite technical, it is a vitally important issue as it has meant that wine is one of the only food and beverage categories which does not have an agreed list of allowable wine additives under Codex. This is important because Codex is the international standard setting body from which many countries use or adopted into their own national regulations. For those countries, the list of allowable additives for wine is incredibly restricted, creating a genuine barrier to trade.
It was clear by the end of the WWTG meetings that there appeared to be progress on a consensus position, which would allow for this matter to be progressed. Thankfully, following the meetings it was announced that consensus had been reached at CCFA53 on provisions for wine additives within the General Food Standard of Codex. This is a very valuable outcome which has taken many years to achieve and will support greater flexibility in allowable additive across a range of our international export markets.
Codex committee on Food Labelling (CCFL47) is scheduled for 15-19 May 2023 and will include a number of key discussions on items with relevance to wine including: