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The Wine and Spirit Trade Association is first to launch comprehensive ‘no and low’ alcohol guides

Guidance | 15 August, 2023

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has spearheaded the development of the UK’s first no and low alcohol guides.

Three detailed documents have been put together by the WSTA – in collaboration with its members including both producers and retailers – in a bid to clear up confusion over the marketing, labelling and production of low and no wines and spirits.

The first two published today (Thursday) are WSTA Marketing Guide for Alcohol Alternatives and WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Spirit’ Alternatives.

A third guide in the series, WSTA Guidance on Labelling of Low and No ‘Wine’ Alternatives will be published very shortly.

A first of its kind, the marketing guide focuses on beverages that contain a maximum of 0.5% alcohol by volume and are marketed at adults.

Following much confusion in the trade over products below 0.5% the guide clears up how to correctly promote and place these products in a socially responsible way.

The second guide on labelling low and no spirit alternatives is the second edition of WSTA guidance originally published in 2021.It builds on the previous advice and sets out pragmatic solutions to conflicting legislative requirements.

The document also contains best practice pointers, some key dos and don’ts and suggested legal descriptors to aid in the naming of products. Some helpful examples of compliant labels are also included for reference.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: 

“As the low and no sector continues to innovate and grow the WSTA is pleased to offer – for the first time in the UK – a comprehensive set of guides to help members navigate the often-confusing world of describing, labelling and marketing no and low alcohol drinks.

These detailed documents offer clarity and comprehensive guidance to help producers avoid pitfalls. If you are making low and no wines and spirits these guides are a must read.”

Over the summer we expect the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to carry out its further consultation to seek views on changing the low alcohol descriptor guidance that was published in 2018.

This will be their second attempt at consulting on the descriptors, after their 2018 effort failed to result in updated descriptors – despite a clear and unified ask from industry.

The consultation has two objectives: to increase substitution of standard-strength alcohol products with low / no products by those drinking above low-risk levels; and to facilitate a shift in the market from sales and promotion of alcoholic products towards low / no alternatives.

The WSTA and its members believe strongly that these aims cannot be achieved without amendments to the current descriptors, particularly the need to increase alcohol free from 0.05% to 0.5%. This would provide consistency between the UK and European markets in these products, as well as providing clarity to today’s confused consumers.

Commenting, Miles Beale said “Clarity and consistency of government descriptors is far more likely than punitive and muddled excise duty reforms to achieving the Government’s stated aim of growing the no and low drinks sector.

“While it’s stating the obvious it is absolutely vital that consumers understand what it is they are buying if they are going to support this small but growing segment of the market. If the Government wants to see a continued change in consumer behaviour it needs to work closely with the producers and retailers, where the expertise lies.

“We are encouraging DHSC to press on with the consultation and make the changes producers, retailers and consumers want, so they can get on with supporting the growth of low and no products.”

The ground-breaking new WSTA guides are only available to members on our website here

If you aren’t already a member you can find out how to join here –

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