IBA supports status quo on carbohydrate and sugar claims, with caveat

The Independent Brewers Association has supported the proposal by Foods Standards Australia and New Zealand that carbohydrate and sugar claims should continue to be allowed on alcohol products, with an important caveat.

The association’s submission accepted that such claims should be supported with a full Nutritional Information Panel so consumers have information available to make informed choices, but has urged that any NIP should be able to be provided via digital linking/QR code.

The association believes this caveat is important due to the costs of changes to packaging and the disproportionate impact the proposals will have on small brewers.

It is not hyperbole to say that the industry is currently under threat as a result of increasing regulation and economic pressures,” the association said in its submission.

Small brewers are the most impacted alcohol stakeholder by labelling regulation because we produce more new products each year than any other food and beverage manufacturer.”

The submission noted that between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, breweries released to market an estimated 3443 packaged beers.

“That equates to an astounding 66 new products to market each week – we do not know of any other food or beverage category that releases as many new products to market.”

While the association has made a submission on behalf of the industry, it has written to brewers urging them to make their own submissions.

Association CEO Kylie Lethbridge noted the recent presentation by her US equivalent, Bob Pease of the Brewers Association, who described in detail the significant work undertaken by the BA in creating a platform to ‘defend’ the brewing industry.

Pease described the importance of ‘collective action’ on behalf of the industry and urged members noting FSANZ needs to hear from small breweries rather than from multinational businesses or the growing number of ‘anti-alcohol’ agencies.

“We have always encouraged our members to participate – we heard from so many of our breweries at BrewCon that they want to know how they can help the industry more broadly… but they are time poor and busy,” she said.

She said that while this was a dry issue for many brewers, it was important.

‘We started consultations on this issue in 2017 – its fair to say that society and technology has changed substantially in that time,” she said.

“As we heard from Bernard Salt at BrewCon – the pandemic created a seismic shift in society. QR Codes are now everywhere.

“If we don’t allow for digital option now, while we are updating the legislation, we might not get the chance for another decade.

“We can’t be that out of step with how consumers want to get their information.

“We are indie brewers and we want to tell our story – many of our members already have QR codes on their products for other reasons. We can leverage that for Nutritional Information. It just makes sense.”

The IBA has created a template to assist its members to make a submission.

Submissions are due on Monday 4 September to FSANZ. Completed templates can be sent to FSANZ via email.

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