US brewers pledge to display nutrition and calorie information

‘Cheers to transparency!’ say brewers as they back the initiative. Pic: iStock/m-gucci

Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Heineken USA are among the brewers in the US who have agreed to provide more information on beer labels, including calorie content and other nutritional information. 

The Beer Institute, a national trade association for the US brewing industry, has launched an initiative to encourage brewers and importers to voluntarily include a serving facts statement and freshness dating on their products.

It also calls for brewers to provide an ingredient list either on the label, online, or via a QR code.

Big brewers back initiative

Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Heineken USA, Constellation Brands’ beer division, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance have agreed to follow these guidelines.

Between these brewers, this already accounts for more than 81% of the volume of beer sold in the US.

The Beer Institute says consumers should begin to see the impact of the initiative immediately and is encouraging brewers to meet the guidelines by the end of 2020.

Helping consumers make better choices

The Beer Institute says its Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative will promote transparency and help consumers as they select their beer.  

“Providing meaningful information will ultimately empower the consumer when making decisions regarding the beer beverage of their choice,” said Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO.

 

Information beers will display:

The Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative states that:

  • Brewers should provide calorie, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and ABV (or ABW as required by state law) information on labels as a serving facts statement, in line with federal guidelines.
  • A list of ingredients should be disclosed, either on the label, secondary packaging, website reference or QR code. 
  • Brewers should clearly display a freshness date or date of production on all labels or primary containers.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has welcomed the move to include calories and nutrition information on beer labels. However, it wants to see the initiative go further and insist on also displaying ingredients on the label as well (while the Beer Institute's initiative wants to see calorie and nutrition information on the bottle, it only requires ingredient information to be published online).

“Brewers are allowed to artificially color, flavor, sweeten, and preserve their products, as well as use foam enhancers. If the industry takes pride in its ingredients it should list them on labels and not simply on the web,” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI president.

The CSPI is also calling on the wine and liquor industries to follow the lead of the beer industry. 

According to a recent Nielsen survey, 72% of beer drinkers think nutrition labels are important to read when buying food and beverages. 

More transparency: a global call

In March last year, The Brewers of Europe (the trade association representing 5,000 breweries in Europe) announced a voluntary move from brewers to list ingredients and nutritional information per 100ml.

This pledge, backed by Heineken, Carlsberg, SABMiller and AB InBev, among others, sees brewers provide energy values in kilocalories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, carbohydrates of which sugars, protein and salt.

AB InBev followed this by committing to include further information (for example, information per portion as well as per 100ml), due to cover at least 80% of European volumes by the end of 2017. 

In March 2015, Diageo pledged to provide consumers worldwide with alcohol content and nutrition information per typical serve. Later that year, Treasury Wine Estates announced it would provide calorie information for its products. 

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