Food Standards Australia-New Zealand is working on three separate proposals that may have an impact on wine labelling requirements in the future. We’re working with FSANZ and other industry stakeholders with a view to supporting options that are evidence based, sensible and practical from a cost and regulatory compliance perspective. Such decisions also need to take into account international trade agreements, such as the World Wine Trade Group Labelling Agreement, and similar consumer information processes being undertaken in our key export markets.
Energy labelling on alcoholic beverages
As members would know, alcoholic beverages are exempt from the requirement to include a nutritional information panel (NIP) on wine labels, unless a permitted nutrition content claim about energy or carbohydrate content is made. It is highly likely that FSANZ will propose a mandatory energy labelling requirement in some form in the coming months, and Australian Grape & Wine is engaging in this process to help drive a sensible and pragmatic approach, balancing consumer and health advocate concerns about the accessibility of energy information with the commercial needs of wine businesses. For example, we are broadly supportive of the concept of a truncated NIP, which would simply provide information relating to energy content (exempting requirements to report on fats and sodium content, as food is required to provide). We are also proposing that winemakers should be allowed to choose to reference a standardised table of average energy contents for different wine styles. We have worked with the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) to develop options (E.g. Style-based energy content categories in Australian wine & Impact of wine components on energy label calculations) to support this approach, which we hope will reduce the compliance burden of testing individual batches.
Carbohydrate and sugar claims on alcoholic beverages
Currently alcohol products are allowed to make statements in relation to sugar/carb content front of pack as long as they include a full NIP on the back of the pack. While commonplace in the world of beer and spirit-based RTDs, products making such claims for the wine sector are more niche in the market-place, albeit growing off of a low base.
While it seems counterintuitive, particularly given FSANZ’s preference for providing consumer information in the form of energy content, there is a high risk that FSANZ will recommend preventing businesses from making carbohydrate and sugar claims. As per the energy labelling process, we will continue to engage with FSANZ on this issue and share public submissions when they are due.
FSANZ’s added-sugars labelling approach is not as far advanced as the energy labelling and carb/sugar claims processes, but we expect targeted consultations to take place later this year. For winemakers, the key issue is to ensure any future labelling requirements take into account the complexities of the winemaking process.