Alcohol Labelling Requirements Explained

Similar to packaged food products, alcohol bottles must make certain information clear to consumers on the labelling. A large portion of the details given on bottle labels will be a legal requirement here in the UK and in the EU – let’s explore this in more detail.

 

What is the minimum percentage of alcohol on labels?

As the Food Standards Agency explains, any type of alcoholic beverage needs to be marked with alcohol strength where it is above 1.2%. 

Where the volume content is above 1.2%, it needs to be labelled with the strength to a maximum of one decimal place in a ‘X% vol’ format (with X being the strength). Alternatively, brands might choose to label the strength in either a ‘alc X% vol’ or ‘alcohol X% vol’ format.

Understandably, the stated strength needs to be as accurate as possible. But there’s some leeway, depending on the type of beverage. For example:

  • +/- 0.5% for beer and wine with strength up to 5.5% volume 
  • +/- 1% for beer and wine with strength over 5.5% volume 
  • +/- 1.5% for beverages that contain macerated fruits or plants 
  • +/- 0.3% for all other beverages

Current labelling requirements

There are a number of standard requirements for alcohol labelling, including:

  • Drink name 
  • Name and address of producer
  • Country of origin or place of provenance (if applicable)
  • Date of durability
  • Special storage conditions (if applicable)
  • Instructions for use (if applicable)
  • Net quantity
  • Warning if the beverage contains certain ingredients, for instance licorice 
  • Alcohol strength (if over 1.2%)

However, label requirements for alcohol also change depending on type. Take wine, for instance; it’s arguably the beverage with the most stringent rules when it comes to labeling. As the government explains, mandatory information includes:

  • Provenance expression – for instance, country of origin 
  • Relevant expression for wines with Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication (unless an approved Traditional Expression is used) 
  • Type of wine – e.g. sparkling wine 
  • Bottler’s details for still wine and the vendor’s or producer’s details for sparkling varieties 
  • Importer details for third country wine 
  • Allergens warning statement if sulphur dioxide content exceeds 10mg per litre or egg residues exceed 0.25mg per litre 

While it’s not a legal requirement (yet), it’s also advised that alcohol brands display an approved message about responsible drinking.

Alcohol labelling requirements uk

Could alcohol labels change in the future?

There have been numerous calls recently for alcohol brands to start including more information on their labels. 

In fact, last year Alcohol Change UK joined over 30 organisations across the drug and alcohol sector in endorsing the Alcohol Charter. It’s a policy proposal that sets out effective and practical guidelines to help limit the damage to society caused by alcohol misuse. 

Together, these organisations want labels to include, in a legible format, details such as:

  • Current Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guidelines related to alcohol consumption
  • Units per serving (or per container on spirit bottles) in line with CMO guidelines
  • Nutritional information per serving (including calories)
  • Full list of ingredients, with any allergens listed in bold

If such changes are enforced in the future, the majority of alcohol brands will need to rethink their labelling design. But rather than seeing this as a hindrance, brands might consider it an opportunity to help consumers make more informed decisions around alcohol and encourage them to drink responsibly. 

Choose Premier Labels for your drinks labels

Whether you produce wine or spirits, you’ll appreciate the importance of a great label. As it’s the first thing consumers will see as they scan the shelves, it’s crucial that it catches their eye and stands out from all the other products. 

At Premier Labels, we use over 30 years' experience to help businesses to create the high-quality labels that their brands deserve, helping you to remain compliant to alcohol labelling requirements.

We create designs using metals, embossing, smart tech, unique swing tags, or any combination of techniques that you'd like!

If you've got any questions, or would like to chat with a specialist member of our team, get in touch today. We're on hand to discuss how high quality labels can make a difference to your unique brand.

Alternatively, give us a call on 01483 423424, or email us at sales@premierlabels.uk.com.

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