Whether your microbrewery is in the business of craft beer brewing, cider making or distilling, there are certain rules you must make sure you follow when developing packaging, labelling, and marketing efforts in general.

Did you know that it’s a criminal offence to describe food and beverages in the UK falsely? Regardless if the item is produced locally or imported. That’s why any alcoholic product must comply with food labelling and packaging rules. The information added to your microbrewery containers must be correct and helpful towards the consumers right to make an informed choice.

To sell beverages from a microbrewery in the UK, the label must be:

  • Clear and easy to read.
  • Easy to understand.
  • Easily visible.
  • Not misleading.

Additionally, the labelling of beverages from microbreweries such as craft beers and ciders must include:

  • The name of the drink.
  • Any ingredients mentioned in The Food Information for Consumers Regulation’s list of 14 allergens.
  • Warnings if the drink contains certain ingredients such as Sweeteners and Caffeine.
  • The net quantity of liquid without packaging materials.
  • A ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date
  • If the beverage need specific storage conditions 
  • Instructions for use, if necessary.
  • The name or business name and address of the producer/microbrewery.
  • The alcohol strength by volume for drinks containing more than 1.2 % alcohol by volume (ABV)

A complete ingredients list and nutrition declaration is not required for drinks over 1.2 % ABV. Still, your customer might be wary of buying something without knowing the actual content. Therefore, many microbrewers choose to include a full "back of pack" nutrition declaration, or just an energy declaration in kJ (kilojoules) and kcal (kilocalories), on a per 100ml basis.

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Tomos Watkin Label by Skanem UK

Photo: Tomos Watkins Brewery  – label by Skanem UK.

 

Marketing rules for Craft Beers, Ciders, Hard Seltzers, Spirits and

Liqueurs

Your microbrewery’s beverage packaging and labelling must abide by strict advertising rules enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for alcohol products. Never promote drinking alcohol irresponsibly or appeal to children. This may include claiming that any ingredient might be healthy or that the alcoholic drink might lead to a better life in any way.

The Department of Health also recommends that the guidelines to the public for reducing the risks of drinking alcohol provided by The UK Chief Medical Officer are communicated to consumers through alcohol packaging.

Here’s an example of a recent ruling from the ASA against a British producer of hard seltzer alcoholic drinks due to three claims listed on their website:

Claim 1: “[Brand name] is a refreshing, low calorie, lightly alcoholic sparkling water – the perfect accomplice to a balanced lifestyle”.

Claim 2: “MILK THISTLE Natural detox hero!”

Claim 3: “HEALTHIER CHOICE Low in sugar, calories and alcohol”.

The ASA challenged and upheld a ruling against these claims based on the following:

Ruling (upheld) 1: “lightly alcoholic” and “Low in […] alcohol” were not permitted claims for the drinks because the product had an alcoholic strength by volume (ABV) of 4%; 

Ruling (upheld) 2: “low calorie” and “Low in sugar, calories …” were nutrition claims that were not permitted for alcoholic drinks; and 

Ruling (upheld) 3: “MILK THISTLE Natural detox hero”, “HEALTHIER CHOICE” and “the perfect accomplice to a balanced lifestyle” were general health claims that were not permitted for alcoholic drinks.

A reference to the Portman Group or to www.drinkaware.co.uk is also something we always recommend you add to your label as a microbrewer. Drink Aware is a charity funded by the alcohol industry to help avoid the misuse or abuse of alcohol.

Label-with-preg-logoAs an experienced British label manufacturer, we’re constantly up to date on the rules and regulations for packaging, labelling, and marketing here at Skanem UK. As a microbrewery, we can help and advise you ­­– even at an early concept level, so you can make sure that your product’s communication and decorations are best suited for your beverage, as well as within packaging and labelling rules and regulations.

Packaging and labelling trends uk label manufacturer Skanem UK