Low alcohol descriptors consultation a ‘missed opportunity’

Commenting on the outcome of the Low alcohol descriptors consultation, Head of Public Affairs and Communications at SIBA, James Calder said;

“Keeping the low alcohol descriptors as they are is a huge missed opportunity. Given low alcohol beer producers are leading innovation in the category (and producing some really, really nice beers at 0.5%ABV and below) we thought that the time was right to change the descriptors to give consumers clarity and to reflect how the words are actually used. Why the Health and Social Care department has failed to listen to consumers, trade groups and specialists in low alcohol beers, we don’t know.

Beer below 0.5% is often referred to as both low alcohol and alcohol free, so why have the department decided to keep confusing, incorrect and outdated descriptors?

Innovation in low alcohol beers may now be hampered because new producers are unwilling to enter the category for fear of falling foul.”

James went on to say: “De-alcoholised refers to a process where the alcohol is removed from a ‘normal’ strength product. Many, if not all new low alcohol beers ‘start their lives’ at 0.5% ABV so to use this term doesn’t make sense. By being forced to use this descriptor it puts off the consumer by wrongly implying a beer has undergone this process, when in actual fact, it hasn’t.”

In its consultation response SIBA called for the low alcohol descriptors to become:

  • Low alcohol – product must be 1.2% ABV or below; (no change to current)
  • Non-alcoholic – be applicable to any products below 0.5% ABV
  • Alcohol free – also be applicable to any products below 0.5% ABV
  • De-alcoholised – only applied to products that have undergone that specific process (and dropped as an approved labelling term)

The full consultation outcome can be found on the DHSC website here:



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