Recent proposals to alcoholic beverage regulations create divergence between UK, Ireland and EU

09 June, 2023

Alcoholic beverage regulations in the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU), and the Republic of Ireland have undergone recent changes, impacting the production, labelling, and trade of these products. The evolving regulations create complexities for companies, requiring careful planning and adaptation to ensure compliance and manage product portfolios. In this week’s blog, we highlight the recent regulatory developments so producers can begin to prepare for these changes.


UK rules

On January 12, 2023, the UK Parliament published the Alcoholic Beverages (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2023, to ‘allow delivery of a free trade agreement with New Zealand’[1]. Changes include labelling the alcoholic strength of wine as well as a provision on grape wine varieties. The UK exit from the EU prompted the development of new national legislation meaning alcohol beverage companies will have to assess the impact of evolving regulations on their products.

EU rules

Recently, Ireland and the EU have made amendments to their alcoholic beverage regulations. The EU wine labelling regulations require new information to be displayed on wines that are produced and labelled after December 8, 2023, according to Regulation (EU) 2021/2117, under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)[2]. These rules include marketing of de-alcoholised wines, nutrition and ingredients labelling, authorisation of hybrid wine varieties, and a vine planting authorisation scheme. These new rules don’t apply in the UK.

Republic of Ireland rules

Under the Draft Regulations mandated by the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018[3], Ireland proposed health warning statements, among other additional information to be added to alcohol labelling in an effort to control the price, promotion and placement of alcoholic beverages[4]. The European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) supports this legislation.

This has caused backlash in the EU, with SpiritsEurope[5] stating that such a move would fragment Europe’s internal market by deviating from the harmonised labelling requirements[6].

As for Ireland implementation, there will be a 3-year minimum planning period that means the proposed labelling rules cannot come into force until 2026 at the earliest unless effective lobbying by the drinks industry delays the regulation or causes it to be abandoned.

How food and beverages companies can prepare

The divergence in legislation between Ireland, the UK, and the EU presents a significant challenge for food and beverage companies, particularly regarding trading and product labelling. It is crucial for companies to proactively plan and understand the potential impact on their product portfolio. For instance, in Ireland, proposed changes may necessitate product re-labelling to ensure compliance.

At Leatherhead Food Research, we support companies in creating compliant labels for the drinks industry. Our scientific and regulatory affairs team also offers horizon scanning services to support future planning. Leatherhead’s analysis can assist discussions with regulators and industry associations.

Contact us at [email protected] for assistance in assessing draft provisions and ensuring compliance for alcoholic beverages in global markets. Together, we can navigate complexity and achieve success in an evolving regulatory landscape.


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