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Finns want more information about the content of alcohol

64% of the Finns that use alcohol feel that the labels and packaging of alcoholic beverages should contain similar product information as in foodstuffs, according to Kantar TNS’ survey commissioned by EHYT. The survey studied Finns’ opinions on the labelling of alcoholic beverages.

Consumers have the right to know what the purchased foodstuffs, beverages and other products contain. At the moment, this is not the case with alcoholic beverages because information about the ingredients and the energy content are missing from the majority of packages.

“If full product information was provided to the consumers, they would be able to make informed purchase decisions. They would also be more aware of what they are spending their money on,” says Kari Vuorinen, Head of Finance and Administration, EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention.

In the survey, 70% of women and 79% of all respondents under 25 years of age replied that labels and packaging of alcoholic beverages should contain similar product information as in foodstuffs. Students (79%) and those with an academic background (75%) felt that labelling is more important than average.

“The consumers want to know what they are drinking. This is a clear message for the manufacturers: more comprehensive product information is needed in alcoholic beverages as well,” says Vuorinen.

Alcohol labelling doesn’t need to be as precise as food labelling

EU’s regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers has considerably changed the legislation regarding food labelling. It stipulates that the packages of all foods should present ingredient and nutrition information.

“Unfortunately, this duty to provide information doesn’t apply to alcoholic beverages that contain more than 1.2% alcohol by volume. We hope that this duty would also apply to stronger drinks,” says Vuorinen.

According to Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, the sales packaging of alcoholic beverages should contain information about substances and products causing allergies or intolerances and about the alcohol strength. They should also contain labelling related to the use of sweeteners and warnings about certain substances, such as caffeine. A list of ingredients and a nutrition declaration are not required on the packaging of alcoholic beverages.

Not enough attention is paid to those with allergies or special diets

56% of the respondents hoped for clearer labelling for alcoholic beverages for those with special diets. Based on the answers, especially those under 25 (70%) feel that this is important.

Today, special diets are more common than before. The number of both therapeutic diets (allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes or celiac disease) and lifestyle diets (vegetarian diet, weight management) has increased.

Common causes of allergies or intolerances must be notified already but also additives can cause a hypersensitivity reaction.

“Currently, consumers have no way of knowing what other possible, more unknown allergens or other ingredients that are unsuitable for their diet the beverage contains”, Vuorinen sums up.

The survey was carried out by Kantar TNS Oy. The material was collected during 20 April to 2 May 2018 at Gallup Forum, as an Internet survey. 1,151 people who stated that they consume alcohol at least occasionally took the survey. The group represents 18 to 74-year-olds (excluding the residents of the Åland Islands). The statistical error margin is approximately +2.9%. 

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