Thursday, October 8, 2015

Diageo's Crown Royal First to Put 'Serving Facts' on the Label

They can't call it 'Nutrition Facts' because it's not part of that FDA program, but Diageo has gone where no alcoholic beverage has gone before. As announced Tuesday, Diageo has begun to ship cases of Crown Royal that include what they're calling 'macro-nutritional information' on the product. It's the first time an alcoholic beverage brand has included a serving facts panel on its packaging. The panel details serving size, number of servings per container, alcohol by volume, number of calories and grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. It also includes the U.S. Dietary Guidelines definition of a standard drink, which is 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

Crown Royal has been used as a stalking horse before.

In 1996, Crown Royal (then owned by Seagram's) drew fire for breaking the taboo on distilled spirits advertising on television. President Clinton criticized them, saying the TV ad ban "helped protect children." Before that, Seagram's had created a line of 'Seagram's Coolers' that included both wine-based and spirit-based products, which it advertised on TV using Bruce Willis as the celebrity spokesperson. Technically, only the wine-based products appeared on TV, but the spirit-based products had identical packaging.

Diageo, which is frequently not very transparent about some of its products, wants to be seen as transparent on these types of consumer facts. Since 2006, Diageo has provided serving facts information on its DRINKiQ ( website. Diageo will add this information to other brands as they change or update their labels.

A 2014 study cited by Diageo found that 86 percent of U.S. alcohol consumers agree that serving facts labels that include the 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol per drink definition provide useful and relevant information, while 83 percent agree the same information on a label helps them understand the definition of a standard drink. The majority of respondents in the same study (conducted by FoodMinds LLC) specifically indicated that beverage labeling that includes alcohol content per serving is helpful to them in following the recommended dietary guidelines for alcohol consumption.

In 2003, Diageo was part of a coalition of consumer and public health advocates that publicly asked U.S. regulators to allow serving fact information on beverage alcohol products. In 2013, the US Treasury’s Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) finally approved that request, allowing labels to include serving size, number of servings per container, alcohol by volume, number of calories and grams of carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. Since that time, the TTB has approved a label that specifically references the US Dietary Guidelines, which defines a drink as being 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol.

Serving fact information is now permitted, but it is not required. Producers have the option to include it or not.


Alex said...

I'm very interested in seeing calories and grams of carbs/sugar, as it's impossible to tell whether some products have added sugar and how much. Of course, if they use artificial sweeteners (I don't know if that's allowed without labeling), it still will be impossible to tell how sweet something tastes.

Erik Fish said...

I think wanting to use this basic nutritional information as a tasting guide is expecting a bit much.

Unknown said...

Straight bourbon has no added sugar. (assuming it is labeled correctly, perhaps a big assumption) Pure alcohol has 7 calories per gram. That's more than protein or carbs, which have 4 calories per gram. Almost as much as fat which has 9 calories per gram.

Pure alcohol also has zero carbs, zero fat, and zero protein. No wonder the distillers don't want any info on the label!

Kind of strange - Diageo won't tell you where the juice came from, but they will tell you how 'nutritional' it is!

Anonymous said...

Good thing these serving facts aren't [yet] mandatory, or Templeton would be in even deeper water :-O

Charles Benoit said...

Good for Diageo. With regard to the being-first claim, would be good to know the date Diageo shipped those cases. We - Toronto Distillery Co. - put a Nutrition Facts panel on our most recent release, our Organic Applejack, with first bottles sold Oct. 6th, 2015, the same day we received the labels from A1 Label. Happy to dig up the bill of lading.

Here is a picture:

There was no issue in Canada with putting a Nutrition Facts panel on a spirits bottle. We hired, and Andrew checked with Canada Food Inspection Agency about adding info at the bottom of the panel "100 Calories from alcohol per 43 mL" to explain where the calories came from, and that was ok. In Canada, the standard serving was 1.5oz (43mL).