FOR YOUR INFORMATION
We share below recent developments. As always, we rely on FIVS Members to apprise us of noteworthy matters. Please contact the FIVS Secretariat with items you believe may be of interest.
- European Union – The Brewing Sector Makes Consumer Labelling Commitments to the European Commission: The Brewers of Europe and its members have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the European Commission (EC) agreeing to place ingredient and caloric information on the labels of all beer bottles and cans in the EU by 2022. The MoU obligates companies to show ingredient and energy information on their product labels; trade associations will provide reports on the efforts of this sector. As reported in prior FIVS Alerts, this development follows discussions in March 2018 between the EC and the beer, cider, distilled spirits, and wine sectors about adopting a self-regulatory regime regarding ingredient and nutritional information.
- Ireland – Developments Related to the Alcohol Act: We have reported on developments related to the Public Health (Alcohol) Act. Here are two interesting developments:
- The Irish Government Notifies the EC that it Plans to Prohibit Promotions: The Irish Government recently informed the European Commission (EC) that it plans to ban price promotions for alcohol beverages under its new Public Health (Alcohol) Act. The government has said, for example, that it would discourage customers from purchasing alcohol by means of retailers’ bonus or loyalty card schemes. These efforts are intended to reduce excessive alcohol consumption under last year’s alcohol law.
- Ireland – Alcohol Consumption is High: Alcohol Action Ireland recently found that the Irish consume 11 liters of alcohol per person each year, which they say is 80% above the worldwide average. That same research concluded Irishmen between 18 and 24 years old are “Europe’s No. 1 binge drinkers.” In response, the study encourages raising the price of alcohol. We would also point out that according to Drinks Ireland alcohol consumption per capita has decreased 23 percent since 2001, with Irish teenagers reportedly among the most abstemious in the EU.
- South Africa – The Government Considers Changes to Alcohol Beverage Laws: The South African Authorities recently issued proposed amendments to laws covering spirits and wine. The government stated that industry views were taken into account in the proposed changes. The following document summarises the changes under consideration.
- United States – Beware of Making Health Claims: Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a final decision in the case Bellion Spirits, LLC v. United States, Civ. No. 17-2538 (JEB). According to Marc Sorini of McDermott, Will & Emery, the Bellion case was brought by Bellion Spirits after the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) refused to approve a series of health claims advanced by Bellion in connection with its vodka products. According to Bellion, the infusion of its vodka with a compound called NTX mitigated the damage alcohol inflicts on human DNA. The court agreed with the TTB on a number of significant grounds, such as being deferential to the agency’s factual determinations, determining that misleading claims were not protected by free speech guarantees, and underscoring TTB’s role in advancing consumer health aims. Companies may thus wish to be cautious about marketing alcohol beverage beverages as healthy products.
- United States – Pennsylvania’s Pricing System is Flawed: FIVS has previously reported on Pennsylvania’s flexible pricing scheme and signed a letter pointing out that this approach was “inconsistent with the operation of an open and fair market.” We thought you might like to see this opinion piece co-authored by FIVS Member Matt Dogali of the American Distilled Spirits Association and Chris Swonger of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States which was published on 04 September 2019 in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.